Palestinian social media erupted over the weekend as people expressed their outrage over a leaked video showing and Israeli border police officer shooting a Palestinian in the back as the man walked away from the officers, his hands raised in the air.
The video, taken last year, was leaked over the weekend and broadcast to the public on Saturday by Israel’s Channel 13.
Footage shows Israeli border police officers ordering an unidentified Palestinian man to turn around and walk away from the officers, who were stationed at a checkpoint between the West Bank and Jerusalem.
הערב במהדורת השבת ב- @newsisrael13 נביא תיעוד בלעדי של אחד מלוחמי מג"ב מבצע ירי בכדור ספוג לעבר פלסטיני שלא מהווה סכנה וידיו באוויר
הפלסטיני שרצה להיכנס לישראל הורחק בידי לוחמי מג"ב ובעודו חוזר לשטחים נורה בגבו ללא כל סיבה ונפצע pic.twitter.com/11A4CrEDhz
— yishai porat – ישי פורת (@yishaiporat) November 2, 2019
“’Run already,’ the officers tell the man, who then swiftly turns around, puts his hands in the air, and hastily walks away from the officers.
Seconds later, while one officer films using his phone, another one of the officers fires a sponge-tipped bullet, which can be lethal when fired at close range, hitting the man in the back. He then falls to the ground, and can be heard screaming in pain.
According to Haaretz, the incident came to light last year during an investigation into another incident involving border police officers who beat a Palestinian man for no apparent reason.
The offending female officer, reportedly around 20 years old, was arrested along with four of her fellow officers, and discharged from the border police, only to then be reinstated as a soldier in the army to complete her mandatory service.
Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told the media that the other border policemen who were present at the scene were “removed and some of them were transferred from their positions.”
At a court hearing for the officer last October, Haaretz reported that the judge said the officer apparently shot the Palestinian “as a dubious form of entertainment”.
“The video shows the magnitude of blind hatred and Zionist racism,” the PLO said in a statement, saying “Palestinian lives and blood have become the funiest place for human killers.”
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi took to Twitter to express her anger, writing “crass and cruel inhumanity: the horror of the unconscionable when unarmed Palestinians are shot in cold blood just because ‘brave’ Israeli soldiers can do it with impunity and for their own entertainment. Stop #IsraeliCrimes. #FreePalestine.”
Crass and cruel inhumanity: the horror of the unconscionable when unarmed Palestinians are shot in cold blood just because "brave" Israeli soldiers can do it with impunity and for their own entertainment. Stop #IsraeliCrimes. #FreePalestine. https://t.co/5l5BGUaG6c
— Hanan Ashrawi (@DrHananAshrawi) November 2, 2019
Much of the frustration expressed by Palestinians on social media over the weekend came not only from the shooting, but from the alleged interaction that ensued between the soldiers after.
According to Haaretz, evidence presented during the officer’s hearing included text messages between her and her unit boasting about the shooting.
In its report, Channel 13 quoted the suspected officer’s lawyer as saying she was not responsible for the shooting. The report also included a Whatsapp exchange that allegedly took place between another male soldier in the unit and someone alleged to be his girlfriend.
Screenshots circulated on social media show the alleged male soldier’s girlfriend asking if he arrived, to which he responds “yes we are at the gate but how about that shot though? I’m a pro aren’t I?”,along with an emoji of a flexed arm.
His girlfriend’s response reads: “yes you are a pro my love. Be safe!” along with heart emojis.
Mondoweiss could not verify the authenticity of these messages.
Following the backlash over the weekend, the Israeli Justice Ministry said on Sunday that it will decide in the coming weeks on whether to file charges against the female soldier or not.
The shooting has elicited an impassioned response from rights groups and Palestinians in the West Bank, where such incidents have become commonplace at checkpoints and other areas where Israeli soldiers are given opportunities to exert their control over Palestinians.
“This exceptional documentation shows what, sadly, is an unexceptional event: Israeli security forces hurting a Palestinian for absolutely no reason,” B’Tselem spokesman Amit Gilutz said on Twitter. “Such instances are the direct result of the culture of impunity fostered by Israel, which is crucial to the perpetuation of its military control over the Palestinians.”
“This exceptional documentation shows what, sadly, is an unexceptional event: Israeli security forces hurting a Palestinian for absolutely no reason,” said B’Tselem spokesman @amit_gilutz https://t.co/NOlSlcEtoZ
— B'Tselem בצלם بتسيلم (@btselem) November 4, 2019
B’Tselem has endlessly criticized the Israeli military for its lack of accountability of soldiers who routinely violate the human rights of Palestinians, saying”
“It is the standard conduct of the military law enforcement system, based on the understanding that condoning – even implicitly – soldiers’ blatant breach of orders without holding anyone accountable is what allows the continued use of lethal force. This force is crucial to Israel’s ability to carry on its violent control over millions of Palestinians.”