Two settlers have been cleared by the prosecution as having acted in self-defense for shooting and killing a Palestinian who was among dozens throwing rocks at them and a group of 20 teenagers.
The Central District Attorney’s Office on Monday closed its investigation into the November 30 incident at Kusra in Samaria, finding that the two settlers acting as guards for the teenagers had felt their lives were in danger.
Furthermore, the prosecution said that the guards had only been firing into the air to ward off the Palestinians and that the killing of Mahmoud Ouda had been a misfire.
Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank often have confrontations over disputed land areas, some of which have led to lethal confrontations. Often the Palestinian side has claimed that law enforcement allows Jewish settlers to get away with unjustified violence.
However, in this case, The Jerusalem Post has learned that even some of the Palestinians arrested for throwing stones did not claim any specific provocation from the Israeli side.
Rather, the Post has learned that some of the Palestinians arrested have been charged with counts as serious as attempted murder in the IDF West Bank Courts and that at least one Palestinian admitted that the two armed settlers did not fire on them until they were responding to the rock-throwing.
Some Palestinians have claimed in the past that throwing small rocks from far distances is not dangerous and that Israeli settlers are allowed to used disproportionate and excessive lethal force in response.
In contrast to these claims, the Post has learned that in this case, many of the rocks thrown were large and posed a real threat.
In fact, the prosecution said that because the Palestinians throwing rocks were throwing them onto the settlers and teenagers who were at a lower point on an incline, the rocks were gaining momentum and became more dangerous.
One of the armed settlers was wounded by the rocks.
The prosecution noted that the settlers’ narrative, that they had been firing into the air as a warning which led to the lethal misfire, was supported by the Palestinians having been higher on the slope.
B’Tselem, which in such situations often presents a counter-narrative to the Israeli side on behalf of Palestinians, could not provide a counter-narrative in this instance.
Honenu, an organization that provides legal aid to soldiers and civilians, and Yossi Deutsch of the Samaria Regional Council both praised the decision, but criticized law enforcement for having put them through the criminal investigation in the first place, saying it was clear from the start that they had acted in self-defense.
They also called on law enforcement to bring to justice additional Palestinians involved, some of whom have still not been arrested.