ISRAEL / PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

A pro-Palestine protestor shot "like a mosquito"

This amateur video, which has caused uproar on the internet, would seem to demand some serious questioning of the Israeli Army's techniques in the Palestinian territories. The footage was filmed in Bil'in, a village in the West Bank near the border with Israel.

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This amateur video, which has caused uproar on the internet, would seem to demand some serious questioning of the Israeli Army's techniques in the Palestinian territories. The footage was filmed in Bil'in, a village in the West Bank near to the border with Israel.

The video was published by B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organisation. The incident happened two months ago during a protest against the separation wall put in place by Israeli authorities, which cuts off a part of the village used for farming.

Images show the protester, 18-year-old Eran Cohen, being hit by a rubber bullet at close range. He later explained that he was protesting against the incarceration of one of his friends and that he shouted "enough with the violence!" to the soldiers, when they fired at him. He was shot in the leg and taken to the Assaf Harofeh medical centre where doctors were able to extract the bullet. Eran says that he will continue to demonstrate against the injustice served to Palestinian people, who "have received more bullets" than him.

The army said that it would investigate the incident, adding that "security forces were ordered to employ crowd dispersal means on the demonstrators".

 

Two months ago, near Bil'in

Video: B’Tselem

"He shoots as though swatting away a pesky mosquito"

Commentary from one of our Observers for Israel, Roi Ben-Yehuda.

The old saying "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me" was put into practice in this incident. Except this time, the weapon of choice was neither stick nor stone, but rather an M-16 assault rifle loaded with a rubber bullet - a bullet that had to be surgically removed from the thigh of the Israeli protestor.

I have no doubt that this guy was annoying, aggressive and insulting. I also have no doubt that being a soldier in the [Palestinian] territories is an extremely stressful experience - an experience that until you lace up those boots you can never fully understand. But the response of the soldier and his squad seems to me to be inexcusable and immoral. From the available evidence, the protestor did not in any way pose a threat to the soldier or his colleagues. It seems clear his actions violate the IDF's [Israel Defense Forces] code of conduct, which states that military action can only be taken against military targets; that use of force must be proportional, and that when appropriate, soldiers must provide the wounded with medical care. It also clearly violates the IDF regulation which states that rubber bullets must be fired from a distance no closer than 40 metres.

The thing that I find really disturbing is not only that the soldier shot the protestor - notice that there is no verbal or gunfire warning (at least non recorded). But it is also the way he did it. The soldier shot the protester with the same ease that you swat away a pesky mosquito. Moreover, his squad seems to be totally indifferent. They just keep on walking without even turning their heads. Their lack of surprise suggests to me that they expected this to happen. The question that a video like this raises is that if IDF soldiers shoot at Israeli protestors in such a carefree manner, how much worse do their Palestinian counterparts have it?

People say that civil disobedience can only function against a semi-civilised opposition. In other words, an opposition that is governed by rule of law and shows proportional restraint. The argument has always been made that if only the Palestinians were to use the method of Gandhi and King then this whole crisis would be done with. The Israeli conscience would not accept such an injustice committed in their name. But when you see videos like these, videos that are in line with the testimonies of many eyewitnesses on the ground, then you began to wonder if the likes of Gandhi or King would stand a chance in the Palestinian territories in the first place. Surely if the IDF's de facto position is to shoot peaceful yet pesky protestors, they would not."