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SCOOP: IDF Refuses to Release Its Video of Nakba Day Killings, Army Videographer Shot at Victims

UPDATE: Just to clarify what I know and don’t know. When I first published this post I believed that the soldier shown firing his weapon on this CNN video was the killer of the two boys. That remains a very distinct possibility. That shooter is a Dover Tzahal videographer, as noted in this post, and did fire on the boys in the precise instant when one of them was killed. But it’s not yet been proven conclusively he was indeed the killer, as there was another IDF unit firing at that time from a nearby location.

Ben Ehrenreich, reporting for LA Weekly and his own blog, after having interviewed eyewitnesses, strongly believes the shooter involved in the first killing was not with the Border Police, among whom the videographer is shown firing. He believes the shooter had to be in the parking lot in which the IDF unit was stationed.

Ehrenreich also says, based on eyewitness accounts, that there were commanders spotting for snipers and pointing out specific targets among the Palestinian youth. This might mean an entire chain of command is implicated in the killings and not just a single IDF videographer.

There is some chance that the IDF, in order to protect an entire unit is willing to sacrifice some poor grunt video guy, who decided that was the day on which he would play John Wayne.

Because it’s very important to get this right, what we can say with certainty is that the Dover Tzahal shooter fired at precisely the instant the first boy was killed. He may’ve been the killer. But even if he wasn’t, another Israeli unit was also firing which would’ve included the killer. As Electronic Intifada has shown, the bullet that killed the first victim was live ammunition manufactured by the Israeli Military Industries.

*  *

A major break in the story of the Nakba Day murder of two Palestinian boys at Bitunia.  Yesterday, Haaretz published an important new development in the story when it wrote that the soldier shown on a CNN videotape of the incident firing at precisely the instant when one of the boys was shot was not a member of the Border Police unit  policing the protest.  It added the tantalizing fact that the shooter was serving in a “non-combat” role in the IDF “communications division.”  The Haaretz report noted that an IDF artillery unit was providing backup support for the incident and left the impression that the soldier who fired might’ve been from that unit.  It also noted the IDF’s excuse that soldiers serving in other units often have line of command problems, in that the commander on scene doesn’t have full control of soldiers from another unit, which leads to failure of discipline.  Finally, the IDF told the newspaper the shooter had been suspended.

The shooter served in none other than the IDF spokesperson’s unit (Dover Tzahal).  Today’s scoop indicates he served in the video unit which films all Border Police and IDF operations at protests.  The unit exists to surveill Palestinian demonstrations and pick out ringleaders that can be used for intelligence purposes.  However, the unit inadvertently films atrocities such as this as well.  The irony is that the guy videotaping IDF mayhem might’ve been the one who murdered the Palestinian boys.  If not, he may’ve videotaped the soldier who did.

Though I requested this information, my source could not identify the name of shooter.  I am hoping that this new reporting will lead to such information being revealed.  The only reason it isn’t, is that the IDF is protecting its own reputation and wants to ensure nothing is released about this incident that isn’t under its control.

My source further says the IDF has the video from the incident but has not released it.  My natural inclination is to believe that’s because it would rebut its false claims about what happened.  My source was told the spokesperson’s office refuses to release it “for obvious reasons.”  There is also an important note about how the soldier came to fire a weapon.  Such soldiers, despite their serving in a non-combat role are armed.  It’s highly likely the weapon shown being taken away from the shooter on the CNN video is his weapon.  This would also explain why the majority of the ammunition used during the protest was rubber bullets, but live ammunition killed the boys.  The killer’s weapon undoubtedly had live ammo and not rubber bullets.  For Hebrew speakers, Eishton published a blog post today proving that live ammunition was fired at the protest.  The IDF has consistently denied there was any live fire, which clearly is a lie.  There may’ve been no live fire from the Border Police, but there was from the only soldier there who shouldn’t have been firing at all, let alone live ammunition.

This raises the question, why does a videographer carry a weapon at such a protest?  Why does a videographer fire his weapon when he’s not under threat, let alone supposed to be in a combat role.  If he’s going to carry a weapon, why isn’t it supplied with the same ordnance the other Border Police are using in order to avoid precisely the tragedy that occurred?

The crowning irony here is that the IDF spokesperson’s unit is tasked with defending the army’s reputation even including lying when necessary.  In this case, Dover Tzahal itself was the cause of embarrassment to the IDF.  This is a deep stain on both the IDF and its public affairs function.  Of course, it should mean a careful examination of what went wrong in this incident and operational reforms.  But the army is expert at covering its ass.  At examination of its failure and accountability for its actions…not so much.

I tweeted a series of questions to IDF Lt. Peter Lerner and asked him for direct comment.  He’s noted that if a Dover Tzahal soldier was at Bitunia, since it was considered a ‘conflict zone,’ the soldier would be armed.  He’s not answered whether there was such personnel at the scene, under what circumstances he would be allowed to fire his weapon and whether he did fire his weapon.  He’s pleaded “ongoing investigation” as a reason not to comment further.  I tweeted to him that this was an excuse and that he certainly could comment if he wished. I invited him to watch this space to find out what I know (and what he too knows).

UPDATE: John Brown posted this on Facebook last night:

Haaretz breaking story: Soldier from IDF Spokesperson Unit was among those firing on demonstration contrary to regulations.

IDF replies: Sorry…budget cuts.  Now we have to shoot protesters in addition to whitewashing their deaths.  Direct all complaints to Treasury.

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Oui May 29, 2014, 3:25 PM

    Posted this in your previous article: Israeli TV Report Proves Live Ammunition Killed Palestinian Child.

    Source: Israel suspends soldier after 2 Palestinians die in shooting by Ivan Watson, Michael Schwartz and Kareem Khadder

    The Israeli military has suspended a soldier who was filmed by CNN firing a rifle at Palestinian demonstrators during a deadly shooting incident on May 15 that resulted in the deaths of two Palestinian teenagers.

    CNN filmed two Israeli security officers firing at the time of the incident. The first wore the black uniform and visored-helmet of a border police officer. The second wore the green uniform of the Israeli Defense Force, and appears to be the same man who was filmed earlier taking photographs with a still camera. Seconds after he shoots his weapon, a border policeman takes the rifle from him. CNN was able to match events on the security video with events on CNN’s own video.

    The IDF soldier is seen at other moments in the video aiming the rifle at the Palestinian protesters, appearing to be coached by a border police officer.

  • ben May 29, 2014, 4:18 PM

    Does live ammo work with the rubber bullet attachment?

    From the cnn pictures it clearly shows the attachment on but rubber bullets are only lethal up to 20m according to the haaretz article. So it had to be standard ‘live’ munitions.

    I did read that israel uses two kinds of rubber bullets so perhaps the pre 1980 design is more lethal?

    • Dena Shunra May 29, 2014, 4:23 PM

      See the English brochure in the Eishton post.

    • Nonsense May 29, 2014, 6:55 PM

      Live ammo can be fired through the attachment. It is designed this way. You can’t however carry full metal jackets (regular bullets) inside a ballistic cartridge (תחמיש בעברית) magazine. There is a plastic stop that prevents inserting FMJ’s to that magazine. In order to fire a full metal jacket, one would have to: 1. Exchange the magazine from ballistic cartridge magazine to full metal jacket magazine. 2. cock the rifle. 3. fire.
      Non of the video’s shows that.

    • Nimrod May 30, 2014, 12:03 AM

      There are two kinds of attachments for firing rubber bullets:
      1. the “Rarnag” (ררנ”ג) which looks like a green soda can and contains 15 round rubber balls. It can be used once. I know of one incident in the late 80’s, where a soldier tried to reload it with small rocks in order to reuse it, causing him injuries.
      2. the “Romea” (רומ”ה) which is the attachment seen in the video, is designed to hold 4 cylinder shaped projectiles which are rubber coated, and is reloaded with these cylinders (which come wrapped in plastic, and that’s how they got the nickname “tampon”).

      In order to fire these rubber projectiles, a special round needs to be fired – one without a projectile, but with much more gun powder. a special magazine is used for these rounds (it’s a bit shorter and usually painted in red) – and it’s impossible to put live rounds in this magazine – it’s shorter than a regular 5.56 mag, and a round with a bullet at the end does not fit in.

      In conclusion, it is possible to fire a live round through the “Romea”, which is seen in the video capture, but it’s impossible to use live rounds in the magazine used with it.

  • Nonsense May 29, 2014, 5:08 PM

    Eishton in his post is flat out wrong.
    I’ts hard for me to explain it in English but i will try.
    Rubber Bullet attachment is being fired not by a FMJ but by a blank cartridge which is a projectile less bullet.
    A blank cartridge is designed to cause the rifle to work as designed and pull off the bullet casing and “throw” it out of the rifle, as long as there is (in the case of rubber bullets) ammunition inside the rubber bullet launcher attached to the rifle’s barrel. When there is no ammunition inside the attachment the firing chain reaction will not produce enough gas and the bullet casing will get stack in the barrel, to release the soldier would have to manually cock his rifle.
    The fact that the movie show’s a bullet casing being automatically “thrown” out of the rifle is the way the system was designed to work, while firing rubber bullets from a loaded attachment.
    Since you don’t trust the pro-israel crowd on your site, please invest the time and call any gun range in your area.and simply ask.

    • Blabbity June 2, 2014, 9:56 PM

      Would a rubber bullet generate sufficient pressure to cause the rifle to eject a round?

      I ask because if you look at golf ball launchers (which work on the same principle) the pressure generated is not enough to make the rifle cycle, and you have to eject the spent cartridge manually.

      See here for instance:-

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtHI0pHhw4c (at the 2-minute mark)

      If this is not the case, why does the soldier manually cycle the weapon after firing, causing another round to be ejected?

  • AEL May 29, 2014, 5:20 PM

    According to this diagram, the group of IDF soldiers at the house under the vine did not have the required line of sight. Rather, the shooting came from the parking lot.

    • Deir Yassin May 30, 2014, 2:20 AM

      Thank you, that’s a very informative diagram.

  • pabelmont May 29, 2014, 6:29 PM

    Why should it be supposed that there are no pathological killers (killers for fun) in IDF? And if the spokesman’s unit is officially charged with explaining the unexplainable, then we should not be surprised to discover pathology there. Lastly, if there is a breakdown in command structure such that a hasbarista can come to a scene of conflict bearing un-permitted arms, and can use them (due to the said failure of command), then all this must be WELL KNOWN adn DEPENDABLE and thus allows guys like this to depend on being able to murder within the “system” and without punishment (usually) — were it not for (apparently) too many cameras.

  • Nonsense May 29, 2014, 6:50 PM

    The shooting soldier in question doe’s not server within the IDF spokesman unit but as a reporter with the military radio .
    station, Galaz.

    • Richard Silverstein May 29, 2014, 11:56 PM

      @ Nonsense:

      The shooting soldier in question doe’s not server within the IDF spokesman unit but as a reporter with the military radio .
      station, Galaz.

      Proof? A reporter decides he’s going to cross over into the action & become a combatant? Doesn’t pass the smell test. If it’s true, there’s a whole different scandal brewing.

      • Deir Yassin May 30, 2014, 2:27 AM

        When Youssef Munayyer pointed out that one soldier took the rifle from the shooter (I had to watch the CNN video various times to see it, at min 1:59), I thought it might as well be a guy who’d asked ‘Can I please have a try’.

        • Marcos June 1, 2014, 12:38 PM

          That thought says something about your internal proclivities and lack of perspective

          • Deïr Yassin June 1, 2014, 6:29 PM

            Oh, really ? How do you then ‘explain’ that a reporter from the military radio is allowed to shoot ?
            PS. If you’re the Marcos commenting on 972mag, you don’t really have to answer; I’ve read enough of you to pay no attention at all. Are you a paid or volontary hasbarista, by the way ?

          • Richard Silverstein June 2, 2014, 12:07 AM

            @ Marcos: This comment is not substantive & contains no argument or facts. Read and follow the comment rules.

          • Deïr Yassin June 2, 2014, 6:53 PM

            @ Marcos
            I just came across this article in Haaretz that I apparently missed: a soldier shot on Nakna day out of boredom
            “The soldier, whose job and unit cannot be disclosed due to a military gag order, is connected primarily to communications. It is assumed that at a certain point he too wanted to shoot at the demonstrators and took a gun from a Border Policeman.”
            You see how close I was in spite of my ‘lack of perspective’ ?

          • Richard Silverstein June 2, 2014, 9:36 PM

            “Gotta get me one of those Palestinian boys.” It’s like a hunting trophy. Perhaps they can stuff a dead Palestinian & put him on the wall?!

      • Nonsense May 30, 2014, 12:53 PM

        1. Part of the IDF training is for a position named New Media Worrier – לוחם ניו מדיה – these are media reporters who receive basic training with the different infantry units and later accompanies the different units they are assigned to and being their stories.
        2. I’m sure your source would be able to tell you the name of the Soldier.
        3. There will be a very little scandal out of the soldiers involvement.

    • Oui May 30, 2014, 1:34 AM

      About Galatz Radio:
      “The young IDF radio soldiers do most of the dirty work.”

      Not meant to be performed as an IDF military killing unarmed protesters.

      I watched a TV crew doing an interview with Karadzic during the siege of Sarajevo during the civil war. From a high position overlooking the city, the reporter* was permitted to pull the trigger of a army cannon firing rounds at the civilian population. War is in essence inhumane and men become tools of commanding officers who often commit crimes with impunity.

      (*) Searching for event, I could only find Russian playwright Edvard Limonov firing rounds into Sarajevo at the side of Karadzic.

  • idan May 30, 2014, 4:16 AM

    Once your address just screaming your anti-Zionist, what objective value has Yedioth “you advertise? After all, if the video will prove that the death of Palestinians is fabricated, so tell video is edited. On the other hand, you did not mind the original video edit very (and I is not talking about the show 24 hours, but five minutes before and after the shooting). Anyway, why do not you bothered by the terrorist with explosive belt caught today?This terrible army dared to undress him the coat he was wearing (in this heat jacket, yes) and found pipes and explosives. If the IDF was so violent and aggressive, one would get shot in the head, and rightly so. Unless killed terrorist planning a terrorist, not even kill protesters.

    • Stretch May 31, 2014, 12:29 AM

      “if the IDF was so violent and aggressive”

  • J.B May 31, 2014, 12:43 AM

    It is very clear that the two boys were shot by an Israeli sniper, the” rubber bullet” issue is just a smoke screen created by the Israeli army.

  • Nonsense June 1, 2014, 1:21 PM

    FYI, in a short post on the Israeli forum Fresh, Eishton admitted he was wrong.

    • Richard Silverstein June 2, 2014, 12:03 AM

      @ Nonsense: I wouldn’t trust your paraphrase of anything. Plus, Fresh is certainly not a credible media outlet. Provide a quote a link before you can even begin to be taken seriously.

      But even if what you claim is true, it has no bearing on my own claims & those of others. I didn’t rely on Eishton in making my judgments except in nothing he wrote that live fire was the only possibility.

  • Markus June 2, 2014, 5:38 PM

    Militarized israelis killing stonethrowing palestinians, what’s new. Not to be cynical..

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