The following story is a perfect parable of the cluelessness of the IDF in enforcing the Occupation regime. Military forces routinely kill or maim protesters (Palestinian, Israeli and foreign activists) at the weekly protest in Bilin against the Separation Wall. One of the worst series of tragedies befell the Abu Rachmeh family, whose son and daughter were killed by the IDF. Bassem was murdered four years ago by an IDF soldier who fired a tear gas canister directly at his body from a close distance contravening IDF regulations in the use of such weapons.
His sister, Jawaher, was fatally poisoned by the intense fumes of a tear gas canister, which asphyxiated her. After no less than an IDF general blamed her death first on a supposed head injury and then on incompetent Palestinian medical treatment, finally in 2011 the IDF released a highly redacted report about her death which made no mention whatsoever of Palestinian medical treatment. In fact, it complained that the Palestinians had provided the IDF with no medical records (so how could the general have declared the treatment incompetent after she died?). The IDF declared in the document that it had no idea how she died. So much for the thoroughness of IDF investigations.
Since Bassem’s murder was captured on videotape, the IDF was forced at least to admit that it would investigate the incident. As is usual in such circumstances, the investigation went nowhere. No progress has been made. No results have been announced.
As a result, their mother has appealed (Hebrew and English) to the Supreme Court to force the military prosecutor to bring charges against those responsible. She was joined in this suit by B’Tselem and Yesh Din. Their brief points out that international law demands a prompt, thorough and independent investigation of all such charges. The implication of this statement is that if the IDF refuses to do so it will open itself to international war crimes charges as it has in the case of the assassination of Salah Shehadeh and Operation Cast Lead, among other Israeli-induced massacres.
At least three different videos of the incident confirm that Abu Rachmeh had engaged in no violent act during this protest, though he had been vocal in his protests against the military presence.
Members of the unit which killed him have told Breaking the Silence that the killer actually bragged to them about his “hit.” Unfortunately, we don’t know who the killer was, though this image was circulated around the internet at the time. If anyone reading this knows more about his identity and has supporting evidence to prove it I’d be grateful to receive it.
Other members of this unit have joined with a right-wing group called Consensus, threatening a lawsuit against Emad Burnat, director of the film 5 Broken Cameras, a recent Oscar contender. They claim that his film, which documented Israeli military violence against protesters (hence the five broken cameras), libeled and defamed them. Two IDF soldiers cooperating in this lawsuit were interviewed on Israeli TV. One disguised himself (as well he might given how seamy this enterprise is) and the other didn’t. He is Pavel Guliak and a delightful specimen of humanity.
Among the things Pavel has to recommend himself to us is that in an Israeli internet forum he called himself “Stoner” Pavel. His New Year resolution went like this (in Hebrew): “Happy New Year to all: may all Arabs die; be happy in your classes, succeed in your studies, lots of fucks. Love to all.”
Pavel should make a great witness for the plaintiff. I can just see the defense’s first question on the stand: “Pavel, were you only stoned when you wrote that post to the Hyde Park forum or were you stoned too when you fired tear gas canisters in Bilin?”
On a related matter, another Palestinian who was murdered by an IDF-fired tear gas canister was Mustafa Tamimi. Unlike the situation with Bassem, thanks to other Israeli activists, we know the commander of the unit which murdered Mustafa. In fact, there is a website created by brave activists who outed the entire chain of command involved in this crime (except the actual shooter).
The investigation into Mustafa’s killing ended long ago with no charges being brought. That’s why the website was created. Now, the chief military prosecutor, Dan Efroni, has asked the State prosecutor to open an investigation (Hebrew) into a “grave” case of incitement against IDF personnel involved in this incident. Apparently, the lives of those named by the website are in danger and they must be protected from any form of accountability for their crimes.
What’s ironic about all of this is that if the damn military prosecutor did his job, he would investigate Tamimi’s death and the activists wouldn’t have been forced to name the perpetrators of this horrid crime. Now the IDF blames those who are acting on behalf of the real victim, the murdered man.