New videos contradict IDF claims about West Bank killing

Footage from four separate cameras appears to show Israeli soldiers were not in any danger when they shot a mentally challenged Palestinian man in the back of the head in Tulkarm last week.

By +972 Magazine Staff

CCTV footage of Israeli soldiers shooting Muhammad Habali in the West Bank city of Tulkarm on Dec. 4, 2018. (Photo: Screenshot of footage released by B’Tselem)
CCTV footage of Israeli soldiers shooting Muhammad Habali in the West Bank city of Tulkarm on Dec. 4, 2018. (Photo: Screenshot of footage released by B’Tselem)

CCTV footage of Israeli soldiers shooting a Palestinian man in the West Bank city of Tulkarm last week appears to contradict the army’s claims about the killing.

The footage, taken from four separate cameras, appears to show that, unlike the army’s claims, no clashes were taking place at the time of the shooting, no crowd control measures were used, and that the soldiers were not in any danger when they shot Muhammad Habali in the back of the head.

The army, despite having opened a military police investigation into the deadly shooting, has not changed its story since seeing the footage.

B’Tselem released the following statement on Tuesday:

On Tuesday, 4 December 2018, at around midnight, some 100 Israeli soldiers invaded the city of Tulkarm in the West Bank. Some of them entered four homes in different parts of the city and conducted a brief search. A few young Palestinian men came to the areas where the soldiers were and threw stones at them. The troops responded with rubber-coated metal bullets and teargas.

At some point during the night, about 30 soldiers came to the area of a-Nuzha Street, an east-west street in the western part of Tulkarm. Some of the force spread out along the street in groups of threes and fours. The others entered the alleyway opposite the al-Fadiliyah Boys’ High School and raided a home there. Further down the street, about 150 meters away from the soldiers, several residents were standing at the doorway of the a-Sabah Restaurant and on the adjacent street.

One of them was Muhammad Habali, a mentally challenged 22-year-old from Tulkarm Refugee Camp. Habali walked back and forth, crossing and re-crossing the road.

Video footage from four security cameras installed on three separate buildings along the street allows for construction of a full picture of the scene. It clearly shows that there were no clashes between residents and soldiers in the immediate vicinity of the spot where Habali was shot.

Testimonies collected by B’Tselem, coupled with the video footage, indicate that at 2:25 a.m., an officer and two soldiers advanced towards a-Sabah Restaurant and stopped about 80 meters away. According to eyewitness accounts, a few seconds later the soldiers opened fire at young men standing in front of the restaurant, and the young men then fled the scene.

Habali, who is seen in the footage carrying a long wooden stick – which he had picked up a few minutes before the shooting – was the last to leave. After he took several steps, he was shot in the head from behind, from a distance of about 80 meters. Another shot hit M.H., a resident of Tulkarm, in the leg. About a minute after the shooting, the three soldiers are seen rejoining the other soldiers in the area and leaving, without providing Habali or M.H. with any medical assistance.

Asked about the video footage, an Israeli military spokesperson sent the following statement:

A military police investigation was opened into the incident last week. At this stage it can be said that during the course of operational activities by IDF combat soldiers in Tulkarm, violent disturbances developed, during which dozens of Palestinians threw stones toward the soldiers.

In response, the soldiers used crowd dispersal measures and live gunfire. It was reported that one Palestinian was killed and another was wounded.

When the investigation is completed, its conclusions will be examined by the military prosecution. Additionally, the incident is being investigated at a command level.

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