Israeli occupation soldiers have complained to Israel’s Ynet that they are not allowed to be more violent against Palestinians whose land they occupy in the West Bank.
In particular, the soldiers seem unhappy that they can no longer just shoot dead Palestinians who throw stones at them because Palestinians do not like foreign armies occupying their towns. Ynet used only initials to identify the soldiers.
According to S., orders to open fire address situations of a clear and present danger and only if there is a person with the means and intent to kill. “But what is an angry mob throwing stones and sometimes rocks at you if not a life threatening situation? I wouldn’t order opening fire at a crowd of people but we can’t have a situation where you stand in front of a person with a rock and start to ask yourself is this person life threatening. If I shoot at him I go to jail.
“Intolerable” not to be able to shoot Palestinians at will
One soldier admits that the presence of cameras – presumably in the hands of Palestinian and other videographers – inhibits the soldiers from being even more abusive:
T. says the cameras on the ground undermine the forces’ efforts. “A commander or an officer sees a camera and becomes a diplomat, calculating every rubber bullet, every step. It’s intolerable, we’re left utterly exposed. The cameras are our kryptonite.”
Occasionally crimes by Israeli occupation soldiers and settlers are caught on video.
But more often they are not. In recent testimonies given to the group Breaking the Silence, Israeli soldiers admitted to horrifying crimes including deliberate and random attacks on Palestinian children, sometimes killing them and sometimes just for amusement.
In video shot by Palestinians last May, Israeli settlers can be seen attacking a village with stones, live fire and setting fire to fields as Israeli occupation forces guard the settlers.In this video, posted a few days ago on YouTube, settlers can be seen throwing stones at Palestinians in the occupied West Bank village of Urif, again protected by soldiers.
It seems unlikely that “S.” and “T.” would be too keen on Palestinians being given the right to shoot at them. Stones are only deadly weapons, it would appear, in the hands of Palestinians, and when directed against heavily-armed, invading occupation forces.
Israeli soldiers kill with impunity anyway
While “T.” worries about “calculating every rubber bullet,” Israeli soldiers have found ways around rules nominally meant to prevent wanton killing of Palestinians.
Exactly one year ago, Mustafa Tamimi, 28, was killed when Israeli soldiers in the village of Nabi Saleh fired a tear gas canister at his face at point blank range, a murder witnessed by Linah Alsaafin.
In November, harrowing video caught images of Rushdi Tamimi, 31, also in Nabi Saleh, lying on the ground shortly after being shot in the stomach and thigh by Israeli occupation forces during a protest against Israel’s attacks on Gaza.
The video shows the occupation soldiers threatening the woman shooting the video and preventing villagers from tending to Tamimi, who died of his wounds in hospital two days later.
In addition to Tamimi, 22-year-old Hamdi al-Falah was killed by Israeli soldiers during protests against the attack on Gaza in the West Bank city of Hebron.
“S.” who was concerned, “If I shoot at him I go to jail,” need not worry. A year after Mustafa Tamimi’s killing, no one has been brought to justice. It’s unlikely that Rushdi Tamimi’s killers will face justice either.
It’s been like that since video of Israeli soldiers brutalizing Palestinians came to light during the first intifada, which began 25 years ago this weekend.
Videos or no videos, decade after decade, Israel’s brutal occupation grinds on without accountability and with impunity for those who give the orders and those follow them.