Israeli soldier who killed Palestinian teen was not in danger, video suggests

An IDF soldier shot dead 19-year-old Badr Nafla in the West Bank last Friday. The army claims the soldier's life was in danger, but a video of the incident suggests a different story.

Palestinians attend the funeral of Badr Nafla, who was shot dead by Israeli troops on February 7, Kafr Qaffin, February 8, 2020. (Ahmad al-Bazz/
Palestinians attend the funeral of Badr Nafla, who was shot dead by Israeli troops on February 7, Kafr Qaffin, February 8, 2020. (Ahmad al-Bazz/

On Friday last week, Israeli soldiers shot and killed 19-year-old Badr Nafla in the West Bank village of Qaffin, during a protest near the separation barrier. Following the shooting, the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson claimed that “during a riot, soldiers spotted a Palestinian throwing a molotov cocktail toward them, and fired back in order to counter the threat.” However, video footage of the incident, along with witness testimony, tell a different story.

A short clip posted to social media not long after the shooting shows a few dozens Palestinians gathered in the area, throwing stones and burning tires. A military jeep slowly approaches the scene, and shortly after single shots can be heard, followed by cries for help in Arabic. Nafla is then evacuated from the scene by ambulance.

According to a Palestinian man present at the demonstration, who spoke with Local Call during Nafla’s funeral the day after the shooting, the soldier who fired the shot was not in danger.

“He was sitting in an armored jeep, and chose to get out in order to open fire,” the man said. He further claimed that this was not the first time Israeli troops had arrived on the scene that day, and that the jeep had passed by the demonstration several times before the shooting.

“We were standing a short distance behind Badr when he was shot and killed,” the man continued. An Israeli [military] jeep approached the gate in the separation fence, and a few youths threw stones at it from the other side of the fence. A soldier got out and fired a single bullet directly toward Badr.”

The army’s claim that people were throwing molotov cocktails is incorrect, the man added. “There are security cameras on the fence, they could release the footage if they wanted to.”

The video footage seems to confirm this version of events, showing that the soldiers stopped some distance from where the protest was taking place. The claim that soldiers’ lives were in danger — which is made almost every time the military shoots Palestinians — appears not to have been the case.

This is not the first time Qaffin has been in the news recently. In December 2019, Haaretz reported on the fact that IDF soldiers had, in the previous two months, shot around 20 Palestinians in the area as they were attempting to cross the separation fence.

Qaffin residents said that since the publication of the Trump administration’s so-called “Deal of the Century,” young Palestinians had started demonstrating near the gate in the separation fence, located on the outskirts of the village. Clashes began erupting daily, and a number of injured protesters were evacuated to hospitals in the days leading up to Friday’s shooting.

Nafla is the fourth Palestinian shot dead by Israeli forces in the West Bank since Trump’s Middle East plan was unveiled on Jan. 28. Two of the other shootings raised pressing questions about why the soldiers decided to open fire using live ammunition.

Also on Friday last week, an Israeli soldier shot Palestinian police officer Tarek Badwan as he stood at the entrance to the police station in Jenin. Badwan succumbed to his injuries a few hours later. The army admitted it had opened fire even though Badwan posed no threat.

Last Thursday, the military shot dead 17 year-old Mahmoud al-Haddad, claiming after that he had thrown a molotov cocktail at its soldiers. According to human rights organizations, the soldier who fired the shot was standing on the roof of a building.

When contacted by Local Call, the IDF Spokesperson declined to comment further on the shooting of Badr Nafla.

A version of this piece originally appeared in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.