A video has emerged of Palestinian teen Muhammad al-Salaymeh, who was shot dead by an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron yesterday, his 17th birthday.
The video, posted on the Facebook page QNN, is of an earlier television encounter between Muhammad and his older brother Awad, banished to Gaza after his release from prison by Israel in October 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange.
In the video Awad and Muhammad chat. Awad says, “My brother Muhammad was born while I was in prison.” And when the host asks Muhammad what he wishes for, the teen answers, “I wish we could all be together, as one family, instead of separated.”
When asked what the situation was like near his home in Hebron, Muhammad answered, “there are always closures, but we are steadfast. We will never leave our house in which we were raised for years and generations, because we will be steadfast to our last breath, until we die.”
Muhammad’s family home is in central Hebron, an area coveted and occupied by Israeli settlers who have steadily been driving Palestinian families out.
Today dozens of Muhammad’s schoolmates attended his funeral in Hebron. “We lost a friend, a brother, and a sporting hero,” his friend Ahmad Al-Jamal told Ma’an News Agency.
Video of murder scene
Another video, released by B’Tselem, shows the harrowing immediate aftermath of Muhammad’s shooting. There is a brief glimpse of Muhammad lying on the ground, distraught relatives screaming, with Israeli occupation forces present on the scene. Towards the end of the video medics can be seen attending to Muhammad as a voice calls for his father “Abu Awad.”
In the final moments of the video a man, possibly Abu Awad, is heard saying, “ibni, ibni,” – “My son.”
Muhammad shot “after an exchange of words”
Updated: 14 December
The Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq announced findings from a preliminary investigation into Muhammad’s killing:
The circumstances of his death are currently unclear. However, according to Al Haq’s preliminary investigations, Muhammad left his home yesterday evening at approximately 6:30 pm in order to buy a cake and passed by Checkpoint 160, which is some 100 meters from his house. When he passed the checkpoint, Muhammad was reportedly holding a lighter that resembled a gun, which aroused the suspicion of the Israeli soldiers manning the checkpoint and caused them to have an exchange of words with Muhammad. Following a discussion with the soldiers, Muhammad was shot twice, once in the abdomen and once in the chest, at a short range. Muhammad died around 7:30 pm as a result of the shooting.
Muhammad al-Salaymeh’s accused killer has been named in media reports as Nofar Mizrahi, 19, a member of the Israeli “Border Police,” a unit of the occupation forces.
Mizrahi was quoted by The Jerusalem Post expressing that she was “happy” at the outcome and had no qualms or regrets about having killed al-Salaymeh even though he may have had a toy gun or nothing at all in his hands:
“It didn’t change it for me, because in those same moments you don’t have time to think or be confused. For me it was a real pistol in every sense of the word pointed at my soldier and it’s my responsibility to act, because if I don’t kill him my friend will be killed, and I won’t let this happen,” said “N” on Thursday.
“After they investigated the incident it turned out it was a fake gun, but it didn’t change how I felt about it. I’m happy this ended with no injuries on our side and I’m sure any other officer in my situation would have done what I did,” she added.
N said that she had only moments to react and instantly got in position, finding a clear line of fire before letting off three shots into al-Salaymeh.
Israeli soldiers recently told Israeli media they were frustrated that they could not shoot at Palestinians more freely.
Killings of Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces are rarely subjects of credible investigations.
“Unfortunately this is not an isolated case,” Al-Haq said, “the killings of Palestinian civilians, including children like Muhammad, are the result of the prevailing climate of impunity granted to Israeli soldiers, who are hardly ever held responsible for the violations committed against the Palestinian occupied population.”