Images of an execution

The following material relates to the extrajudicial killing of Palestinian Mahmoud Salah by a Israeli Border Police unit, on Friday 8 March 2002, in Beit Hanina, Jerusalem.

Included, images of the execution with the article and original captions as published in today’s Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda (Palestine), two wire service reports from Agence France Presse, and other articles.

Together — through visual evidence and eyewitness interviews, juxtaposed next to a record of official statements made by Israeli police spokesmen — a picture emerges that clearly contradicts the Israeli version of events.

Please note. It is unclear whether the images are still photographs or screen captures from a video. In either case, the answer lies with Agence France Press who distributed the still images via its wires.

Compiled by Nigel Parry and Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 12 March 2002. Additional translation by Laurie King-Irani.

The killing of Mohammed Salah by Israeli police on 8 March 2002

Above: The article from Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda
Click for Enlargement

Headline: Al-Quds — This is the way Israeli police executed Mahmoud Salah in cold blood.

Body: Palestinian eyewitnesses said yesterday that the member of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades who died last Friday after he was killed by the Israeli police in Bet Hanina in occupied Jerusalem was executed in cold blood 30 minutes after he was arrested. More than ten witnesses told AFP that they saw the arrest of Palestinian Mahmoud Salah, 23, and that the arrest lasted more than half an hour until the last moments of his execution, but many of them refrained from revealing their names to AFP. Yahyia al-Wa’ri, 56, told AFP that Mahmoud Salah, 23, was executed on Friday in cold blood after being under control of the police for at least half an hour. Al-Wa’ri said: At around 4:15pm on Friday, a border guard police patrol came to the Third Project in Nuseibeh Housing Project in Occupied Jerusalem and summoned two youths who were in the street there, one of them was a member of the Nuseibeh Quarter and his name was Randy, and the other youth was saying that his name is Mahmoud from Nablus region. Al-Wa’ri added: Mahmoud arrived to them and he was handcuffed and they raised his hands up in the air and they placed him on the car. A few minutes later, special units and police and explosives experts arrived to the scene. He continued: the area was full of kids playing and some youths, but the border guard police dispersed them and started shooting in the air. The members of the special units pushed Mahmoud down on the floor and tore off his clothes until he was kept in his underwear. He added that he and the neighbors saw the execution and that the women started shouting. Jerusalem Center for Economic and Social Rights said the soldiers killed Mahmoud Salah from Bet Wazan village in Nablus in cold blood and the citizens in the area saw all the details and refuted the Israeli story and that there is a videotape recording the crime. (Al-Hayat al-Jadida, March 11, 2002)

The series of images printed in Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, with original captions

Where better versions of the same images were available, these were included. Captions remain exactly as they appeared in Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda.

(1) Members of the [Israeli] Border Guards
arrest the young man, Mahmoud.

(2) They push him to the ground and verbally
interrogate another man [in the blue shirt].

(3) They search the area and chase
residents away with their weapons.

(4) They beat the young man, Mahmoud,
who is prostrate on the ground.

(5) They remove his clothes and point
their weapons at him.

(6) They empty their weapons into the head
of the martyr Mahmoud.

(7) They use a robot to examine the body of the martyr Mahmoud after they killed him.

Three aspects of the event pictured above undermine the various Israeli versions of the event:

  1. The suspect was under control for more than half an hour before he was executed, according to witnesses. This is supported by the images above, which depict a series of different police officers and others in a variety of positions in the frame and performing a variety activities over some period of time.

  2. Salah is thrown against the jeep according to witnesses, and a beating is pictured and noted in Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda’s captions at one point. The suggestion that soldiers would violently beat or shake someone they believed had a bomb strapped to them is not credible.Similarly, if there was a real bomb threat, how is it that so many Israeli police and police vehicles are pictured in the immediate vicinity of Salah in almost every frame?

  3. The AFP article states that: “According to Israeli security sources, Salah was wearing a large overcoat and policemen opened fire when he refused to take it off.” Yet Saleh is depicted both alive and in his underwear in image number 5.

Israeli police statement on March 8, 2002 incident

Communicated by the Israel Police National Foreign Press Spokesman, 12 March 2002, 14:23:01 Israel Time.

On Friday, March 8, 2002, a suicide bomber on his way to perpetrate a terror attack in Jerusalem was apprehended by police while wearing a large explosive device on his chest and stomach area. He was held on the ground, face down, while a bomb disposal expert attempted to dismantle the explosive device. This lasted a number of minutes. During this time, the suicide bomber attempted several times to detonate the bomb by rubbing his chest against the ground in the hope of activating the detonation switch. In order to prevent the murder of the policemen and the bomb disposal officer, the suicide bomber was shot and killed by police. The bomb was dismantled with the aid of a bomb disposal robot.

The police have an investigative interest in apprehending suicide bombers alive in order to ascertain information that may assist in preventing further terrorist attacks, as witnessed a day earlier with the arrest of a suicide bomber in Jerusalem’s Emek Refaim neighborhood.

Two Agence France Presses wire service reports
DATE: March 10, 2002 Sunday

SECTION: International News

HEADLINE: Palestinian shot dead Friday by police was executed after



BODY: A Palestinian suspected of attempting to carry out a suicide bombing who was shot dead by Israeli police in annexed east Jerusalem on Friday was “executed in cold blood half an hour after his arrest,” Palestinian witnesses said Sunday. More than 10 Palestinians have provided AFP with their testimonies. According to them, Mahmud Salah, 23-year-old a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades militant group, had been held by the police for more than half an hour before his “execution” in the city’s Beit Hanina neighbourhood. Many of the witnesses questioned by AFP demanded not to be named.

One witness, Yehiya al-Waari, 56, told AFP that Salah “was assassinated half an hour after his arrest, after police completely subdued him.”

“Around 4:15 pm (1415 GMT) on Friday, a car from the border guard police arrived in east Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighbourhood. They were looking for two young men,” he said.

He added that “when Mahmud arrived, he was immediately handcuffed, then (the policemen) raised his hands and threw him against my car. Minutes later, a police bomb disposal unit arrived on the scene.”

“A policeman had put his foot on (Salah’s) neck, another was holding his legs while and a third his hands. All the neighbours and myself saw from our windows and balconies how he was executed, more than half an hour after his arrest,” he also said.

“The members of the special units threw him to the ground and cut open and removed his clothes with a special blade, leaving him with only his boxer shorts on,” he added.

An anonymous caller from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s Fatah group, on Saturday claimed that Salah had been on his way to carry out a suicide bombingin east Jerusalem in the Neve Yaakov Jewish settlement in the area.

An AFP correspondent also interviewed several women who witnessed Salah’s death. They said they were afraid that if they spoke out that the police would “take revenge” because of their statements, and claimed they had entered the neighborhood several times since the incident to fire into the air.

“Members of the regular police were, from the start, clearly disagreeing with the members of the special units who executed Salah and were repeating in Hebrew: ‘Let’s kill him!’,” Waari said.

The special units shot Salah “from a distance 40 to 60 centimetres … and left him lying on the ground for 40 minutes until his death. They then brought robot to remove an explosive belt,” he added.

According to Jerusalem police spokesman Kobi Zarhad, Salah “was wearing a explosive belt on his stomach and detonator on his chest.”

“This person was killed because he could not be subdued. It is only after he was dead that we were able to remove the (explosive) belt,” he added.

According to Israeli security sources, Salah was wearing a large overcoat and policemen opened fire when he refused to take it off.

LOAD-DATE: March 10, 2002

DATE: March 11, 2002 Monday, 2:09 PM Eastern Time

SECTION: International News

HEADLINE: Israeli police say they were forced to kill captured would-be bomber


BODY: Israeli police said Monday they were forced to kill a Palestinian would-be suicide bomber captured last week in Jerusalem, to prevent him blowing himself up along with his captors.

“A suicide bomber was arrested Friday as he prepared to carry out an attack in Jerusalem with a large explosive device which he had strapped to his waist,” police said in a statement. “The incident lasted a few minutes during which time he tried several times to detonate the bomb by rubbing his chest against the ground,” it said.

“To prevent the murder of police officers and the expert brought to defuse the device, the suicide bomber was killed by police and the bomb then neutralised using a robot.”

The statement said police would prefer to arrest would-be suicide bombers alive for questioning to prevent further attacks.

Several Palestinians have said they witnessed the arrest of Mahmoud Salah, a 23-year-old militant of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades who tried to carry out the bombing in Israeli occupied east Jerusalem.

Israeli police kept Salah handcuffed for more than half an hour before his “execution” in the Beit Hanuna district, according to the witnesses.

LOAD-DATE: March 11, 2002

A Jerusalem Post article

Would-be suicide bomber shot and killed in north Jerusalem
By Etgar Lefkovits

JERUSALEM (March 10) - For the second time in as many days, a planned Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem was thwarted Friday when a would-be bomber carrying explosives strapped to his body was shot and killed by border policemen on the outskirts of the city.

They intercepted the bomber at about 4:30 p.m. in the northern Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina.

Border policemen who were on the scene following pinpoint intelligence information that a suicide bomber was making his way to the capital from the North and would be stopping in Beit Hanina, noticed a suspicious looking man in his twenties and ordered him to stop.

Cornered, the would-be bomber tried to detonate his explosives, but was shot dead by two border policemen.

Jerusalem police chief Cmdr. Mickey Levy said the man was on his way downtown, where he planned to carry out an attack on Friday night at a crowded venue.

A 21-year-old Arab accomplice from east Jerusalem, who was to act as the terrorist’s driver, was arrested in the village by police.

Police Insp.-Gen. Shlomo Aharonishky called the two border policemen, whose names were not released due to the sensitivity of their work, to personally thank them.

[unrelated remainder of article deleted]

Other articles

  • Controversy over ‘execution’ pictures, BBC News Online, Tuesday, 12 March, 2002.