Video: Soldiers celebrate as they shoot Palestinians in West Bank

This video shows Israeli occupation soldiers celebrating as they fire weapons at Palestinians in the occupied West Bank village of Madama, near Nablus, on 13 April.

It also catches them discussing the use of live ammunition against Palestinians who pose no threat, before censoring themselves because the exchange is being filmed.

According to the human rights group B’Tselem, which published the video, about 30 residents were trying to remove a roadblock the army had placed at the entrance to the village.

A group of about a dozen soldiers arrived on the scene. “In the clashes that ensued, residents threw stones at the soldiers from a distance of 50-80 meters, and the soldiers fired stun grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets at the villagers,” according to B’Tselem.

In the video, one of the soldiers appears to be a senior officer providing instruction to a junior on how to shoot Palestinians.

“We need one good hit and that’s it,” the superior states. “That’ll teach them not to throw stones.”

The subordinate, who is crouching, fires, then stands up and cries out in elation, “Haha!”

“You hit him! The son of a bitch,” the officer congratulates him.

“One live bullet and the whole thing will be over,” one of the soldiers says – further evidence that Israeli soldiers use live ammunition not in order to deal with an imminent threat to life as regulations supposedly require, but in a premeditated and calculated manner to inflict injury or death on persons who pose no threat to them.

Apparently aware that this is indeed damning evidence, his comrade says, “We don’t need live fire,” and refers to the fact that their exchange is being filmed: “It’s good for the video.”

Joyfully cheering

Seven villagers were injured from the rubber-coated bullets and two were hospitalized.

The video was filmed by B’Tselem volunteers Mu’awiyah Nassar and Ahmad Ziyadah.

“Joyfully cheering about shooting a person trying to clear the access road to his home and calmly discussing other ways to hit him and the other people with him are part of the discordant soundtrack accompanying 51 years of occupation,” B’Tselem stated.

The video is reminiscent of one that emerged earlier this month of Israeli snipers carefully aiming across the boundary fence at a Palestinian man standing still in the Gaza Strip then cheering as he is shot.

Israel cleared the sniper for shooting and injuring the Palestinian man, 28-year-old Tamer Abu Daqqa, in the 22 December incident, but admonished the soldiers for celebrating.

Blinded in one eye

For Palestinians, the injuries they suffer are no laughing matter.

On 9 February a soldier in the West Bank village of al-Bireh shot 14-year-old Muhammad Nubani with a rubber-coated bullet that lodged in his eye.

Muhammad was hit when soldiers fired at a group of teenagers in a playground whom they suspected of being involved in confrontations with occupation forces earlier on at another location.

“All of a sudden two soldiers climbed the hill in the northeast corner of the playground and opened fire,” Muhammad told a B’Tselem researcher. “I felt something hit me in the right eye. I didn’t notice which one of them shot me. Then I felt nauseous. I put my hand on the spot I’d been hit and felt that it was bleeding a lot. I was real scared.”

Surgeons managed to remove the bullet, but Muhammad has lost the vision in his right eye.

Muhammad’s mother Nivin Nubani also spoke of the devastating psychological impact of her son’s injury as well as his physical pain.

“He was in shock and in a bad way emotionally. He kept asking what would happen to his eye and when the plastic covering would be taken off, when he’d be able to see again and when he could go back to school,” Nivin stated.

But after seeing a specialist in Ramallah, the family learned that Muhammad’s vision would not recover.

“We had such a disappointment. It broke my heart,” Nivin said. The doctor “told us that there’s no chance that Muhammad will see in his right eye and that we have to accept that this is the reality and prepare the boy for a normal life the way he is.”

In October 2015, Ahmad Sharaka, a 14-year-old resident of Jalazone refugee camp, died after a rubber-coated steel bullet hit him in the head causing a massive brain hemorrhage.

And last December, an Israeli soldier in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh fired a rubber-coated bullet that lodged in the head of 15-year-old Muhammad Fadel Tamimi, a cousin of child prisoner Ahed Tamimi.

Doctors managed to save the boy’s life and extract the bullet, but they also had to remove a third of his skull, leaving his brain dangerously exposed until planned restorative surgery.

Despite this, Israeli forces violently arrested and interrogated Muhammad Tamimi and forced him to confess falsely that his injury had been caused by a bicycle accident.

Tear gas canister in the head

Also in February, in the West Bank village of Deir Nitham, an Israeli soldier fired a tear gas canister at the head of 10-year-old Salih Yahya.

About 1 pm on 22 February, about 10-15 children and teenagers who were just outside a public park threw stones at Israeli occupation soldiers about 100 meters away. The soldiers fired live bullets into the air, threw stun grenades and fired tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets.

There were also about 10 children playing in the park.

“About half an hour later, one of the soldiers fired a tear gas canister directly at 10-year-old Salih Yahya, one of the children playing in the park, and the canister hit him in the head,” according to B’Tselem.

Salih was relatively lucky: doctors were able to stitch his wound and send him home after a few hours.

But others have not been so fortunate: in 2011, Israeli occupation forces killed 28-year-old Mustafa Tamimi by firing a tear gas canister at his face as part of their lethal crackdown on the nonviolent protest movement in Nabi Saleh.

Muhammad Nubani and Salih Yahya are only the latest victims of Israel’s so-called “less lethal” weapons, which continue to claim the eyes and lives of Palestinian children.

“In both these cases, as in hundreds of others, soldiers violated the regulations and inflicted serious harm on the children, who will bear the consequences for the rest of their lives,” B’Tselem stated.

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