Monday, July 21, 2008

Video of Israeli Soldier Shooting Handcuffed Palestinian Prisoner in the Foot with a Rubber (Coated) Bullet


Israel probes 'detainee shooting'

Israel says it has launched an inquiry after an Israeli human rights group released footage that appears to show a soldier shoot a Palestinian detainee.

BBC News (July 20, 2008)

The video is blurred when the gun fires, but the Palestinian man says a rubber bullet hit his left big toe and he was treated by an army medic.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) called the incident "grave" and in "direct contradiction" of the army's values.

The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said the incident occurred on 7 July in the West Bank.

B'Tselem said the video clip showed a soldier firing a rubber-coated steel bullet, from close range, at a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainee.

It said the shooting took place in the presence of a lieutenant colonel, who was holding the Palestinian man's arm when the shot was fired.


A 14-year-old girl reportedly filmed the incident from the window of her home in the town of Nilin, which has been the scene of violent protests against Israel's West Bank barrier.

I closed my eyes and I don't remember anything. It felt like my leg was gone
Ashraf Abu Rahman
B'Tselem said it received the tape on Sunday and forwarded a copy to the Military Police Investigation Unit, demanding an inquiry.

The Palestinian, Ashraf Abu Rahman, was quoted by local media as saying: "During the demonstration the soldiers caught me, arrested me - and after a few moments I heard shots and felt a fire in my body. I was afraid and didn't know what it was."

"I closed my eyes and I don't remember anything. It felt like my leg was gone," the 27-year-old said.

In a statement quoted by the [right wing Israeli newspaper] The Jerusalem Post, the IDF said: "Military law forbids inflicting harm on detainees and obligates soldiers to show them respect and ensure their safety."

The IDF said that, in accordance with its policy, the footage had been reviewed by a senior official, and an investigation was under way.

The Israeli government says the West Bank barrier is a security measure to stop suicide bombers, but critics say the structure is a calculated effort to annex occupied land.

Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 war. It has settled hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the West Bank and keeps a large military presence there.


Barak condemns detainee shooting

Israel's defence minister has condemned an incident caught on film in which a soldier seems to shoot a rubber bullet at a bound and blindfolded Palestinian.

BBC News (July 21, 2008)

[Israeli defense minister] Ehud Barak said the case was "grave and wrong" and that the military would exact the full extent of the law.

Footage released by [Israeli] human rights group B'Tselem on Sunday shows the detainee being held by one soldier as another fires at his legs at close range.

The Palestinian man has said the rubber bullet hit his left big toe.

A 14-year-old girl reportedly filmed the incident on 7 July from the window of her home in the town of Nilin, which has been the scene of violent protests against the West Bank barrier.

Immediately afterwards, an inquiry was conducted by the brigade commander responsible, but no action was taken, reports say.

'Edited parts'

However, after examining the footage on Sunday, the Israeli military advocate general ordered military police to open an investigation.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also issued a statement calling the incident "grave" and in "direct contradiction" of its values.

In televised remarks to Labour Party MPs on Monday, Mr. Barak promised that those involved would be held to account.

"[The] incident was a grave and wrong one and is not indicative of the IDF's norms. The military will exact the full extent of the law in this case," he said. "Warriors do not behave like this."

Earlier, military spokeswoman Major Avital Leibovitz said questions remained "about the edited parts" of the video, referring to a moment shortly after the weapon is fired, when the camera moves away briefly before showing the Palestinian detainee lying on the ground.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, Sarit Michaeli, said the girl had accidentally stopped filming when she was startled by the gunshot and continued as soon as she became aware she had pressed the stop button.

The group also said the footage appeared to contradict a statement by the soldier's commander, who was present at the scene.

The Israeli military originally said that the lieutenant colonel had been unaware of the incident and that the door of his patrol vehicle had blocked his line of sight.

However, the footage appears to show him holding the Palestinian detainee's arm when the shot is fired. The Jerusalem Post also reports that the commander told the soldier: "Shoot him, shoot him."


Jason said...

Ahem... your choice of words for the headline (and most of the major media outlets) is a little misleading, no?

Israeli Soldier shooting handcuffed palestinian prisoner [with a rubber bullet] [in the foot] maybe?

Not to say this sort of thing is excusable - while i'm a proponent of B'tselem's 'shooting back' program, these headlines take the event FAR out of context.

"علي " said...

Your comment seems to infer that there was some massive conspiracy on my part to mislead my readers. No one should consider reading a headline to be the same as reading the story. The two stories were there for people to read, regardless of the headline. The two BBC articles were included, in their entirety, with no comments from me.

I have also been trying to find a major U.S. media outlet which has reported this in any depth. Any links are welcome. I have found Israeli, Arab, European, and Asian news stories on this incident.

Your point with the longer headline is taken. However, if you or I was shot in the foot at 2 meters or less with a rubber bullet (and to make sure that we're as detailed here, it is a metal bullet with a rubber coating, no?) while handcuffed and blindfolded, I'm not sure that we'd feel that much better about it.

Jason said...

it would certainly be a traumatic and painful experience - but worlds away from being shot from point blank range with a 5.56mm full metal jacket round that would likely sever the foot.

And it should be noted that he was checked by a doctor on the scene and released with 'minor bruising of the big toe'.

I'd also like to point out that the IDF uses videos like this in its training for every combat soldier to show what not to do. It was clearly a violation of army protocol, and that soldier (and his commander) will be punished.

Thanks for updating the headline though

"علي " said...

Fair enough...Though I would take some exception to the second paragraph: it would be like if I hit you with my sword and ended up not hurting you as badly as I could. Does that make me hitting with the sword or shooting my rocket at you somehow less serious with regard to intent? I suppose it comes down to intent, which only the individual knows.

Your point on procedure is taken. However, violations, which while perhaps not routine, are also not uncommon. You rarely see them reported in the U.S. media with any vigor. It's worse when the U.S. military is involved.