Videos appear to show Israeli soldiers shoot live bullets at protesters

Screen grab from a surveillance video that shows a Palestinian protester get shot. 
 
 
Two young Palestinian protesters were killed and two more were wounded during clashes with the Israeli soldiers on May 15 in Beituna, a town near Ramallah. While the Israeli army denied having used lethal weapons, surveillance videos have emerged showing the protesters shot by what appears to be live bullets.
 
The clashes took place on May 15, which is Nakba Day (meaning “catastrophe” in Arabic), the anniversary of the foundation of the state of Israel. Our Observer, a member of the NGO that found and analysed the footage, believes the soldiers likely used real bullets, with the aim of killing the protesters.
 
Surveillance video footage showing the killing of the first protester. Courtesy of B’Tselem.
 
Surveillance video footage showing the killing of the second protester. Courtesy of B’Tselem.

“We strongly suspect the army wanted to kill them”

Sarit Michaeli is the spokesperson for the NGO B’Tselem, which found and published the surveillance footage.
 
The video was filmed by security cameras on a building near which the protesters were gathered. It’s a residential building; it’s quite common for buildings to be equipped with security cameras in the Palestinian territories, both to keep neighbourhoods safe and to film such clashes.

Clashes are very frequent in and around Beituna, because there is a prison and a military base nearby. They take place about once a week. Some are much more intense than the one on May 15, but there are very rarely deaths.
 
Occasionally Israeli soldiers will use live bullets, but when they do so they generally aim for legs or arms. However, last Thursday, the four targeted protesters, of which two died, were shot in their upper body – either in the torso, or in the back. Therefore we strongly suspect that the army wanted to kill them.
 
The army’s rules stipulate that live bullets can only be used against rock-throwing protesters when soldiers are in real danger. But when you look at the footage, you can see that the Palestinians holding rocks aren’t a real threat to the soldiers, since they’ve retreated into safe spots.
 
I do not know exactly why these clashes broke out, but usually, what happens is that Palestinians start to throw rocks at the soldiers. So it’s likely that this is what happened. The army must investigate this matter to find out what caused this tragedy. However, I doubt that they’ll accuse their own soldiers of wrongdoing; this almost never happens.
 
 
B’Tselem says it has obtained medical opinions that show the protesters’ wounds are “completely consistent with injuries caused by live fire and could not have been caused by rubber-coated metal bullets”.
 
The army denies using live bullets, and has asked for permission to autopsy the victims’ bodies. After the surveillance video footage was released, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told i24News that he was “confident in one thing: nobody in the [Israeli Defence Forces] would intentionally and without a sufficient reason open fire just to kill some young people”.

“I recognised the sound of live bullets”

Samer Nazzal is a photographer a Palestinian press agency. He witnessed the clashes on May 15 in Beituna.
  
When I got there, I saw two groups of Israeli soldiers, on either side of the protesters. One was about 70 metres away, at the foot of a building. The other was farther, about 200 metres away, in a parking lot.
 
I saw the first protester get shot and fall down. He had taken part in the rock throwing beforehand, but when he got shot, he was just walking; he wasn’t doing anything provocative. I’m not sure from which group of soldiers the shot was fired. But I recognised the sound of live bullets, which is different than that of rubber bullets. I didn’t see the second guy get killed, but from what you can see in the videos, he got shot in the back.
 
Photos by Samer Nazzal that show a protester getting shot by a non-lethal weapon as he tries to evacuate a wounded protester. 
 
In both cases, the other protesters rushed to evacuate the victims as quickly as possible. I was shocked to see that the soldiers kept firing at the men who were trying to evacuate the first downed protester, this time, though, with non-lethal weapons.
 

Post written by FRANCE 24 journalist Corentin Bainier (@cbainier).

Close