Videos show killing of young Palestinian was 'unjustified and illegal'
Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem released security camera footage on Tuesday that it said proved Israeli forces were not under threat when they shot and killed a mentally challenged Palestinian in the occupied West Bank earlier this month.
Mohammed Ihbali, 22, was shot in the head and killed on 4 December during an overnight army raid in the Palestinian city of Tulkarem. Earlier in the night, several young Palestinians had thrown stones at the soldiers, who shot rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas towards Palestinians.
While previously shared footage showed that Ihbali had his back turned to Israeli forces when he was shot, the new security camera videos confirmed that no clashes were ongoing at the time of Ihbali’s death.
“The soldiers are seen walking unhurriedly, the Palestinians are seen talking amongst themselves, and then the soldiers fatally shoot [Ihbali] in the head from a considerable distance,” B’Tselem wrote in a statement accompanying the video.
According to B’Tselem, the video “clearly shows that there was no disturbance whatsoever in [Ihbali]’s immediate vicinity at the time he was shot”.
“Contrary to the military’s claims, the soldiers who fired at [Ihbali] were not responding to a ‘violent disturbance of the peace’ and were in no danger: the shooting was unjustified and illegal.”
Israeli army forces frequently raid homes in all areas of the West Bank, despite the fact that Area A - which includes Tulkarem - and Area B are nominally under the political control of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
In practice, however, the Israeli army often carries out raids in all parts of the West Bank, and the PA has maintained its security cooperation with Israel despite the scores of Palestinians killed at the hands of Israeli troops.
According to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israeli forces have killed 27 Palestinians in the West Bank this year as of 19 November - not including Ihbali.
Another Palestinian, 24-year-old Omar Hassan Awwad, was shot and killed by Israeli forces on Tuesday morning.
The UN had also noted that Israeli forces this year also injured more than 5,000 Palestinians in the West Bank.
B’Tselem went on to reject the announcement that an internal military investigation had been opened into Ihbali’s death case, calling it “merely the first stage in the process of whitewashing this killing”.
Referring to one of its own reports on the pervasive lack of accountability for the deaths of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli forces, B’Tselem said “the killing of Mohammed [Ihbali], just like so many cases in the past, will be followed by an investigation that comes to nothing, that the incident will be whitewashed and criticism silenced”.
“Meanwhile, while this case too will gather dust and eventually be closed – and also later – the military will continue to use unjustified lethal force without being called to account or paying any price for such actions.”