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(Ismael Mohamad / United Press International)

Video contradicts Israeli occupation soldier’s account of Hebron teen’s killing

The Israeli army has released an edited video clip to support its version of the events leading up to the fatal shooting of Muhammad al-Salaymeh on his 17th birthday by Israeli occupation forces in Hebron on the evening of Wednesday, 12 December.

Israel has claimed that al-Salaymeh had threatened its occupation soldiers with a gun that was discovered after they shot him to be a toy.

But the grainy 54-second video, whose authenticity cannot be independently verified, raises more questions than it answers and is inconsistent with accounts the shooter gave to Israeli media.

What the video shows

The video is shot from a high angle, possibly from a surveillance tower, and shows an Israeli occupation checkpoint. As a figure is seen walking towards the post, a caption states “Arrival of Palestinian male to border police.”

The “Palestinian male” walks calmly toward an occupation soldier and it would appear they exchange words. At about 20 seconds into the clip, the “Palestinian male” raises his arm to hand something over. This could be an identity document.

At 24 seconds, there is a cut in the video of unknown length. This is clear because the Israeli occupation soldier suddenly disappears from the position she or he was initially in. The “Palestinian male” also shifts. It is obviously impossible to tell how much footage is missing or what happens during that period.

After the cut, the “Palestinian male” is pacing up and down near the occupier checkpoint as if waiting. On the far right of the screen the shadow of another person walking past appears.

At 30 seconds, the “Palestinian male” approaches an occupation soldier. The two may have exchanged words. A caption added to the video states “Palestinian male attacks border police officer.”

At 33 seconds, the “Palestinian male” raises his arms and appears to throw a punch at the occupation soldier and the two move rapidly as they fight, first further in toward the checkpoint and then out toward the right of the screen.

Another occupation soldier runs out of the guard post toward the two figures who are grappling. A third occupation soldier appears from the right side of the screen. As the altercation continues shots are fired at the “Palestinian male.”

Shooter’s version

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Israeli occupation soldier Nofar Mizrahi who fatally shot Muhammad al-Salaymeh in a photo posted on an Israeli police Facebook page (source)

(Facebook)

The shooter, who was identified in Israeli media reports and by Israeli police as Nofar Mizrahi, gave the following account reported by The Times of Israel:

The officer, a 20-year-old from Tel Aviv, recounted the events in interviews with Israeli media late Tuesday night, saying that she and two border police soldiers under her command were manning a checkpoint near the Cave of the Patriarchs when the young Palestinian approached them.

“Following the standard procedure, the soldier who was with me asked him for an ID,” she said. “The Palestinian handed him his documents and I entered the room to run a background check.”

While inside, she continued, she looked out and saw that the Palestinian had charged the soldier and drawn what appeared to be a pistol.

“With one hand,” she related, “he grabbed the soldier’s neck and pressed against him, and with the other he put the pistol to the soldier’s temple. In that situation, the soldier couldn’t break free or react.”

The female officer, who was only a few meters away, cocked her weapon.

“I was looking for an angle from which to fire without hurting the soldier,” she said, and it was only after she ascertained that his life was in danger that she pulled the trigger.

“After the first shot, he continued to hold the pistol to the soldier’s temple, so I fired two more bullets,” she said, at which point the Palestinian fell to the ground, and she quickly kicked the gun away.

“It was my first time in a combat situation,” she said, explaining that she had reacted “exactly like I was taught.”

With a gun being held to the soldier’s head, there was no way she could fire a warning shot, the officer said. “My subordinate’s life was in immediate danger,” and it was important to fire without hitting him, she said.

The version reported in English in The Times of Israel is substantially identical to Mizrahi’s account reported in Hebrew in NRG/Maariv and Israel Hayom.

Inconsistencies between video and shooter’s account

The video does not show, as the shooter claims, a situation where the Palestinian male “grabbed the soldier’s neck and pressed against him, and with the other he put the pistol to the soldier’s temple.”

At no point does the Palestinian male pull out a gun.

As Chaim Levinson observes in Haaretz, “it is not possible to see whether or not the deceased was holding a toy gun.” But not only that, at no time does the “Palestinian male” have the occupation soldier “pressed” into any position. The “Palestinian male” throws a punch, and there follows a fast-moving fight.

Shooting victim was not near occupation soldier when shots were fired

Recall that the shooter claimed that the victim had a gun pressed to her colleague’s head when she fired the first shot and then, “After the first shot, he continued to hold the pistol to the soldier’s temple, so I fired two more bullets.

In the video the victim does not appear to be restraining the occupation soldier in any way just before the first shot, and was some distance away from all the occupation soldiers on the scene when the subsequent shots were fired.

At the moment the shots were fired, Noam Sheizaf observed at 972mag.com:

It is hard to tell what’s going on – Muhammad and a soldier can be seen exchanging blows, and it seems that the Palestinian is the first to try and hit the soldier (0:33). The alleged gun cannot be spotted, but the clip – which is slightly edited (0:24) – is very dark. The second soldier comes out to the street and when the soldier and the Palestinian get away from each other, she shoots Muhammad (0:48). Unless the teen was indeed holding a gun, the soldiers don’t seem to be under threat at that moment.

Perhaps because al-Salaymeh presented no danger, and Mizrahi appears to have shot to kill him, the story about him having a gun and pressing it against a soldier’s temple had to be manufactured to justify his killing. What is clear is that Mizrahi’s published account and the video released by the Israeli army don’t match.

Surrounded by occupation violence in Hebron

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Muhammad al-Salaymeh, left, during an October 2011 TV interview with his brother Awad, an ex-prisoner banished to Gaza.

The area where the shooting happened, in the heart of Hebron, has been subject to gradual but intense ethnic cleansing efforts by Israeli settlers, under the protection of the army, for decades, but particularly since the February 1994 massacre of Palestinians in the nearby Ibrahimi mosque by American settler Baruch Goldstein.

Muhammad al-Salaymeh had grown up with this oppressive situation. The teen told an interviewer on Wattan TV in October 2011 about the situation near the Ibrahimi mosque:

there are always closures, but we are steadfast God-willing. We’re not going to leave our house, that we were raised in for years, for generations. We won’t leave it, because we’ll be steadfast, until our last breath.

Young Palestinians like al-Salaymeh are frequently subjected to harassment, beatings or worse by Israeli occupation soldiers – incidents that have been documented on video.

Many such incidents occur at checkpoints where occupation soldiers exercise arbitrary and oppressive authority. Israeli occupation soldiers have testified to the group Breaking the Silence about deliberately trying to “provoke” Palestinians, including children, just for their own amusement.

Israeli soldiers did this especially in Hebron, where, one testified, as quoted in a post by Adri Nieuwhof:

“So there’s a school there. We’d often provoke riots there. We’d be on patrol, walking in the village, bored, so we’d trash shops, find a detonator, beat someone to a pulp, you know how it is,” said a soldier relating incidents in Hebron in 2006-2007. “Search, mess it all up. Say we’d want a riot? We’d go up to the windows of a mosque, smash the panes, throw in a stun grenade, make a big boom, then we’d get a riot,” he continued.

The so-called “Border Police” have been particularly brutal against Palestinians trying to defend homes from takeover by settlers.

International visitors have occasionally been subjected to this kind of brutality as well.

He died steps from his house

Growing up in this oppressive atmosphere is “normal” life for young people like Muhammad al-Salaymeh, who could not get from his house to a local bakery without being confronted by armed soldiers.

It is impossible to know what was said at the checkpoint the night he was killed, if he had been humiliated, detained, or harassed on a night when he wanted to be celebrating with his family.

We do not know what happened during the period which was edited out of the video that might have preceded the “Palestinian male” throwing a punch.

What we do know is that Muhammad died violently, steps from his house, at the hands of occupation forces who had no business being in his neighborhood, his city or his land.

It is a fate Muhammad al-Salaymeh has shared with thousands of young Palestinians before him.

With thanks to Dena Shunra for assistance with analysis and translation.

Comments

The YouTube channel (IDFinArabic) has added publising note in Arabic. My google translation says it has the date "12/13/2012". That would mean Thursday 13th of December?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?f...

But the killing took place on Wednesday 12th of December (in the evening).

Incidentally, BBC published the same error: "Israeli police said the teenager was shot dead on Thursday"
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/worl...

Dear EI,

At 0:32 and again at around 0:36 there appears to be flashes. The first appears to be from the "Palestinian male" and the second from the occupation soldier. I might be wrong, but I wonder what, if anything, is going on there.

As noted, the video is grainy and of low quality. However, all the captions are also grainy and of low "vintage" quality (in contrast to the font used in the introduction). This could imply that the captions were added to a higher quality video, which was then deliberately downgraded to a lower resolution, rendering both the video and captions grainy.

Also at 46 seconds, there is a 2 line caption in the top right hand corner of the video that temporarily obscures the Palestinian victim as the first shots are fired into him. I don't know why this caption is placed directly over the scene of the skirmish/killing when it could have been placed in the lower part of the screen where there is no activity.

Chaim Levinson is quoted here, writing in Haaretz (December 17). Still, that is sloppy journalism at best.

Levinson writes: "The video is 43 seconds long, ...", while the version we see is 54 seconds. Did he see a different version? "... and has been edited". Remember.

Levinson writes: "... he [the Palestinian] walks around near the guard post, and then [sic] attacks the police officer with his fists." Actually right before that moment there is the 0:24 cut of unknown length. So we cannot see what happened then. Levinsons "then" is premature.

Levinson concludes: "The video shows her version of the incident was true". Not true.

On the second step to the cabin, there is a white package. From the start of the video, it is there.

Right after the 0:24 cut, a soldier and al-Salaymeh walk over to that package, the soldier between the package and al-Salaymeh (so that is not walking "up and down", but more like walking to the package with a J-shape path. I'd say it would not be "as if waiting", as the post says). Then at 0:27, when the Palestinian and the soldier are nearby, the soldier *pushes away* that package visibly. Then al-Salaymeh points to it. After that we see the first physical contact.

You are right. I will look at this again.

The package is also visible in the B'Tselem video, taken shortly after the shooting. See 2:22. Its form is almost like a cube.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?f... (3:23. Not listed on their YT channel?).

Also visible in the hatzalahyoshe video (with an "Emergency team" logo) at 0:45.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?f...!
(more on the 0:50 images later).

Interestingly, zamnpress (journalistic quality?) did an interview with the shooting soldier, apparently on the site. Interlaced with overview look-around shots. (Since almost no people are present, it must have been quite some time later). To me, now the stairway blocks to the cabin seems to have disappeared, only the supporting concrete block is in view. And on the veranda of the cabin a white cubical form is present.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?f... (0:51)

Note 1: In the cctv video al-Salaymeh was pointing to the white package (0:26). If the white package belonged to him (or just mattered) *and* it was there at the start of the video, how did it get there? What happened *before* this video started? Was the reaching hand, when near the "desk", be the returning of his ID card, and are the opening seconds from a waiting time, pacing?

Note 2: The hatzalahyoshe video I mentioned shows a gun or toy gun, laying on the ground with a civilian standing over it, from 0:46. The location is some four meters right before the cabin door. Since an ambulance has left and there is no crowd nearby (mostly soldiers in view), this video must be made *later* than the B'Tselem video.
Now here is my question: why is this spot not guarded or markable in the B'Tselem video at all? At 1:32 on that very spot civilians are talking, and soldiers walk criss cross over the place. At 2:00 they even sweep the small place. And noone has seen or guarded the toy/gun? Hypothesis: the toy was planted afterwards.

Thanks again. I am already following up on this. Stay tuned.

Yeah, that toy gun that we've seen all over the net reminds me of the slingshot - nicely exposed on a piece of cloth - that Mustafa Tamimi was supposed to have had in his pocket when he 'agressed' the IOF in Nabi Saleh.

I bet that's the cake Muhammad al-Salaymeh went to buy. The IDF-thug is probably telling him he's not going to get his cake back, and he got angry.
If you didn't know the IDF by now, this story would surprise you. They changed the story of the al-Dalou-killing in Sheikh Radwan at least four times, wonder how many 'updates' from Leibobitch & Regev, we're going to have on this killing.

I'm still waiting for the IDF to release the videos from the flotilla incident, you know, the ones the pirates looted along with the cell phones & laptops that turned up on Ebay.

'Israel' only released one small clip, devoid of its entire context, to support the 'Israeli' controlled version. They also released an audio clip to the BBC of the radio comms between the Mavi Mamara & an IDF vessel (Something that was not released to the UN during their investigation btw). The IDF radioed the flotilla advising them that they were approaching a blockade & 'invited' them to dock at Ashdod. 'Israel' dubbed "Shut up, go back to Auschwitz" & "We're helping Arabs against the US, don't forget 9/11." over the Turk's REAL reply which was something like "We are a civilian AID ship in international waters, your blockade is illegal, we have permission to dock in Gaza, Gaza is our destination."

If the stolen tapes supported 'Israels' version of events.....they would have been released for the world to see.

My point is that 'Israel' have been known to doctor videos/audio clips to suite the false image that they want you to see.