Screenshot of B'Tselem video seemingly showing IDF soldiers shooting at a Gazan citizen, 2018..
(photo credit: YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)
Videos publicized by B’Tselem on Tuesday portray as illegal the IDF’s shooting to death of Palestinian Muhammad Habali in Tulkarm on December 4.
The military has already ordered a criminal investigation, and on Tuesday responded that while the probe was ongoing, the overall context of the incident was one of a public disturbance in which dozens of Palestinians threw stones at IDF forces.
The human rights group said that Habali was a mentally challenged 22-year-old and the videos they distributed showed that he was about 80 meters from soldiers and walking away from them when he was shot.
In past similar circumstances
, the IDF has sometimes argued that such video footage was incomplete and did not show the earlier threats to soldiers, or have said that they were aiming for an attacker’s knees or for someone else and misfired.
As of Tuesday, the IDF was not presenting any conclusions, but said that crowd dispersal methods and eventually live fire had been used in the incident to restore order in the area.
At the moment Habali was shot, he can be seen in the video holding a stick, but he was not waving it or using it in any manner which could have presented a threat to soldiers who were so far away.
B’Tselem’s videos, which were sent out Tuesday, were not the first to be publicized, but were added to earlier footage that also painted IDF firing in a negative light.
The video footage “clearly shows that there was no disturbance whatsoever in Habali’s immediate vicinity at the time he was shot,” the organization said.
“Contrary to the military’s claims, the soldiers who fired at Habali were not responding to a ‘violent disturbance of the peace’ and were in no danger: The shooting was unjustified and illegal,” said B’Tselem.
In addition, the NGO attacked the IDF soldiers in the area for failing to provide medical assistance to Habali when it was clear that he was seriously wounded.
The incident took place as the IDF was performing various house searches and was at some point confronted by rock throwers; the intensity of the rock throwing is under debate.
B’Tselem expressed doubt that Military Advocate General Maj.-Gen. Sharon Afek’s criminal investigation would lead to any actions, refereeing a report in May which detailed that the vast majority of shootings of Palestinians which are probed do not yield indictments, let alone jail time.
When confronted about two recent cases – the “Hebron shooter” of March 2016, and the “al-Nakba Day shooter” of 2014, where Israeli security forces were sentenced to jail time between nine and 18 months – the group has said that these were exceptions to the rule.
The IDF has also opened several criminal investigations in recent months into shootings of Palestinians on the Gaza border in that ongoing confrontation.
According to the IDF on Tuesday, these include its alleged shooting to death of Abd al-Nabi near the border fence near Jabalya on March 30; Razan al-Najar near the border fence on June 1; and Othman Halas near the Karni crossing section of the fence on July 13.
But with the conflict still only about half-a-year old and the probes only a few months old at most, no decisions have been made public and it appears that the military police still need to transmit their recommendations to Afek.
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