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Questions raised over possible Israeli planting of knives on Palestinians

Haaretz correspondent criticises shoot-to-kill policy towards alleged Palestinian attackers, including those posing no threat
An Israeli soldier fires at a Palestinian demonstration after the funerals of two Palestinians, Leys Munasire (22) and Ahmed Ebu'l Ays (27), at Qalandia refugee camp in Ramallah, West Bank on 16 November 2015. (AA)

An Israeli journalist for the daily Haaretz newspaper has become the latest commentator to question her country's narrative on the alleged knife attacks carried out by Palestinian youths, who are often shot dead as a response.

Middle East Eye has previously reported on Israel's shoot-to-kill policy and interviewed locals who witnessed Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces. The locals offer a very different account from the Israeli army statements, asserting that these alleged knife stabbers actually did not possess a knife or pose any threat to the soldiers.

In an article entitled "Does the Israeli army plant knives on Palestinians?", Amira Hass, Haaretz's correspondent for the occupied Palestinian territories, criticised the way suspected knife attackers are reportedly shot dead immediately when they could have been apprehended instead.

"A former Japanese policeman now visiting Israel said, 'I don’t understand. In our country, if someone stabs a policeman, we grab him by the hand and arrest him. We don’t kill him. Why is it different in Israel?" she wrote.

"How should we respond? By saying that in our country, soldiers and policemen are instructed to kill a Palestinian holding a knife two meters from them, or a knife in his bag, or something that is assumed to be a knife in his pocket?" she added.

Hass also criticised the Israeli media for always describing "the site of an incident as military and Israeli," when it is Palestinian, where "tens of thousands of people whose homes and childhoods are there are made to vanish".

She cited one incident when a female knife attacker was shot in the chest, asking "couldn’t the policewoman make do with wounding and arresting the girl?"

Hass also cited incidents where Israeli soldiers, according to witnesses, have shot at Palestinians who apparently posed no threat.

In another incident Hass cited, Palestinian witnesses believed that Israeli soldiers and policemen were planting knives to justify the shooting of Palestinians.

"Israelis find it hard to believe that our soldiers and commanders could lie, until it’s proven otherwise by security cameras or still pictures of which the soldiers weren’t aware," she wrote.

Eyewitness accounts, both from the local population and international groups, of how Israeli soldiers plant knives next to the dead Palestinians they have shot are rarely mentioned in the Israeli or most Western media outlets. 

On 28 October, volunteers from the International Solidarity Movement's branch based in Hebron witnessed Israeli soldiers shoot Islam Ibeidu near a checkpoint by the Kiryat Arba settlement.

"I saw everything," the witness tweeted. "I saw soldiers loading the guns. He [Ibeidu] had his arms up and was shaking, he was unarmed and they just shot him."

The next day, another man was shot dead by Israeli forces after they claimed he tried to stab them.

An eyewitness told local news agency Maan that 23-year-old Mahdi Mohammad Ramadan al-Muhtasib was unarmed when he was killed.

“Then the Israeli soldier approached him and shot him in the head and dropped a knife near his body,” the unnamed witness stated.

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