Soldier who shot unarmed protester to death: I didn’t see him

Soldier who shot unarmed protester to death: I didn't see him
Mustafa Tamimi, a moment before he was injured. The weapon that shot him is circled in red, as is the tear gas canister that caused the fatal injury. Ibrahim Bornat can be seen in the edge of the frame. (photo: Haim Scwarczenberg)

The IDF has launched an investigation into the circumstances which led to the death of Mustafa Tamimi,28, of Nabi Saleh during a demonstration against the takeover of his village’s lands by the nearby settlement of Halamish, in the West Bank.

Haaretz reports:

Figures in the army’s Central Command said the soldier claimed he “didn’t see” Tamimi. But even if that is true, the IDF’s rules of engagement prohibit the firing of tear gas grenades from a rifle pointed directly at demonstrators or from a distance of less than 40 meters away. They also stipulate that the shooter must use the rifle sight and verify that no one is in the line of fire.

The army also claimed that Tamimi was throwing stones at the soldiers. From the pictures taken at the scene (above) it’s clear that the protesters posed no danger to those seating in the bullet-proof Jeep.

Israel Defense Forces officials have told Haaretz that Tamimi’s death was “an exceptional incident.” Still, as we have reported here in the past, firing tear gas canisters at protesters from close range (in violation of army orders) is a common practice in the West Bank. A couple of years ago, Palestinian protester Bassam Abu-Rahmeh of Bil’in died after getting hit in the chest by a tear gas canister [video]. A year later, his sister, Jawahar, collapsed from the effect of a tear gas and later died in a Ramallah hospital.

I have seen tear gas canisters shot directly at protesters (including myself) in several demonstrations in Bil’in, in Hebron and in Nabi Saleh.

A 2010 Wikileak cable originally sent from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv quoted Central Command Major General Avi Mizrachi, warning that the army would step up measures against demonstrations in the West Bank, “even [in cases of] demonstrations that appeared peaceful.” Here is a recent video from Nabi Saleh which shows this policy in action. You can see the army using excessive force agaisnt a handful of protesters who were only singing and clapping.


Related posts on +972:
Mustafa Tamimi: A murder captured on camera
IMAGE: Unarmed protester shot to death by IDF
Nabi Saleh protester hit by tear gas canister dies from wounds
Vicious reader comments left on JPost article on Tamimi
In West Bank, peaceful Palestinian opposition marches on