Yesterday, I wrote about the shocking story reported in Haaretz that B’Tselem had compiled eyewitness testimony confirming that the IDF had murdered four Palestinian militants execution style in Bethlehem a few weeks ago, which contradicted earlier IDF claims that the victims had resisted arrest or returned fire on their attackers. Several IDF apologists in the comment thread for that post have attempted to raise doubts about the nature of the attack. So I thought I would quote from one of the witnesses, Muhammad Abu ‘Ahour, to give readers a sense of how reliable his account is. I warn you that this is very graphic and very disturbing stuff. If you have half a conscience it will shake your convictions, and if you consider yourself a supporter of Israel as I do, it will make you question whether there is pure evil lurking in the hearts of some Israelis:
…I heard the sound of gunfire outside. I immediately went outside to see what was happening, because my wife and baby were in the car [in front of the one attacked by the IDF]. I stood in front of the shop, about five meters from my car, and saw a red Daihatsu parked behind my car. I saw a man walking three meters from the car. Then I heard someone call out, “’Imad!” The man who called out the name was standing on the street next to an orange minibus with Palestinian plates. I saw the man called ‘Imad turn toward the voice and then I heard the sound of a gunshot. The bullet hit ‘Imad in the leg and he fell to the ground.
Immediately after that, I saw six soldiers, in uniform, with helmets and masks, approach the Daihatsu and open massive gunfire at it. I saw the blue ricochet of the bullets. They fired into the car for a long time. The man who had called out to ‘Imad stood next to the minibus and didn’t fire. He was wearing civilian clothes – a blue shirt and jeans – and looked as though he was in his forties. He had a potbelly and was tall, dark-skinned and bald. He told me in Arabic, “Get back or I’ll shoot you.” I shouted that my wife and baby were in the car and that I wanted to go to them, and that I didn’t care if he shot me, that I preferred to die with my wife and baby than die watching how the car next to mine was being shot at. I spoke to him in Hebrew, and he answered me in fluent Arabic.
I heard ‘Imad cry out. He was lying in the middle of the street. Then I saw the soldiers who had fired at the Daihatsu turn toward him and shoot him in the head. His brain scattered all over the ground, which was a horrible sight. I went over to my car and took out my wife and baby, who were unharmed. The bullets hadn’t hit my car. I took the two of them into the mobile-phone store and then I went outside again. I saw the soldiers take a weapon from the driver’s seat of the Daihatsu.
Then I saw the man in civilian clothes holding a weapon. He went over to the Daihatsu and shot the heads of the three men who were inside. They didn’t move. He shot them from behind, in the head. I didn’t know who they were or why they had been executed.
After that, the man in civilian clothes fired one shot into the head of ‘Imad, whose brain was already scattered on the ground. Then he went back to the minibus, got in with the soldiers, and they drove off.
I went over to the Daihatsu and looked inside. I was shocked when I saw my uncle, ‘Issa Marzuq Zawahreh, who was 36 years old, sitting in the back seat of the car. His head was shattered and resting on the shoulder of his friend, Muhammad Shehadeh, who was next to him. Shehadeh was wanted by the Israeli army. Their heads, which had bullet holes in the back, were leaning forward. It was a terrifying sight, as was the sight of Ahmad al-Balbul, who was sitting next to the driver’s seat. Part of his body was scattered on the seat. The three were killed while sitting in the car. The firing was massive and lasted about two minutes. It came from behind the car. The bullets entered through the back window and went out through the windshield.
There are two other eyewitness accounts on the B’Tselem website which confirm the essential details of this one. So what do you think? Execution or not?
When I read such accounts my feelings about Israel are severely tested. Is this the type of nation that we stand for? One that wreaks vengeance on those who do not threaten it? One that murders its prey rather than be forced to go through the tedium of arresting them and bringing them to trial? One that trains killers not only to kill their enemy but to disfigure them Mafia-style by splattering their brains and body parts in order to further humiliate them and their families? Lord, what is this nation? Is it the Golem created initially to save us Jews only to become an out of control monster who threatens our good name? What hath God and the Jewish people wrought?
liberal white boy says
So much for Jewish values in Israel. Would anyone have minded if the Nazis were pushed into the sea?
Yes – state-organised ‘summary execution’ – this reminds me of the CIA sponsored and trained death squads in El Salvador – late Seventies/early Eighties.
“Is it the Golem created initially to save us Jews only to become an out of control monster who threatens our good name? What hath God and the Jewish people wrought?” …You said it brother.
Where in the hell does this PSYCHOPATHY come from..?
Please allow me to introduce you and all my fellow Tikun Olam bloggers – to this antithesis of Israel’s death squads:
It comes with an endorsement from Ranen Omer-Sherman, Gabelli Senior Scholar of Arts & Sciences, Judaic Studies, University of Miami:
“In teaching the Palestinian & Israeli conflict I have used dozens of documentaries in the classroom over the years and I have never seen a film so powerfully stimulate the moral imaginations of Muslim and Jewish, Arab and Israeli students (as well as many faculty who attended). For those who are convinced that knowing the story of the Other is essential to creating the foundation of a better future, this brave film has the rare capacity to stir dialogue and stimulate thinking long after it is seen. Offering deeply moving portraits of individuals who have struggled beyond their own grief and pain to seek dialogue with the other side this riveting film should be regarded as essential viewing for anyone concerned over the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
I would URGE anyone interested in peace and justice in Israel/Palestine – to spend 7 minutes of their life watching the trailer on this website.
Shalom. Salaam. Peace.
This is the first time I’ve visited your blog.
It seemed to be written in a reasoned, thoughtful tone, but it didn’t take me long to conclude that – despite your implicit or declared desire for peace and justice – you are extremely biased in favor of Israel’s enemies. If you seek justice only for Palestinians and Muslims, you will never achieve the peace you claim you desire.
I was startled when I saw something about “Mass Executions.” I live in Israel and had heard nothing about any wholesale carnage. The death of any innocent is deplorable, but surely the number four doesn’t warrant the adjective”mass.” I suppose “multiple” wouldn’t demonize the IDF enough for your taste. I am being sensitive about word choice: insidious propaganda depends on subtlety in language, and you seem to me to be something close to a propagandist.
The death of innocents is, as I observed, deplorable – but the four who were killed were probably not innocents. Muhammed Shehadeh, according to the article, was wanted by the Israeli army. (Nowhere in your article is it asserted that the other three – including the eyewitness’s uncle – were innocent, indeed they were associating with a wanted man.) Presumably, the IDF tracked Shehadeh. They did not kill the eyewitnesses: the IDF therefore was selective, evidently executing only those who had been targeted. That is to say, the IDF killed four terrorists, while taking care not to harm bystanders. Is that worse than what Shehadeh had done to make himself a wanted man?
Please save some of your outrage for the terrorists who attempt real mass murder. Surely the execution of a few – or even many – selected terrorists by the IDF is preferable to attempting to murder anyone within range.
Richard Silverstein says
No, the problem for you is that because of the insularity of the community you come out of you’re not used to a Jew expressing sympathy or understanding for any Palestinian. You’re not used to any Jew trying to see the issues from both sides rather than Israel’s alone. So when someone like me comes along it rocks you to the foundations & the way you deal w. it is to dismiss me as an Arab lover. Well, that just won’t do because I’m actually biased in favor of Israel’s long term interests. I care as much OR MORE about Israel’s interests as I do about Palestinian interests. You can’t quite wrap your mind around that one can you?
Wrong again. I don’t see justice “only” for the Palestinians. I seek justice for BOTH SIDES. And frankly I’m less interested in justice than I am in finding a way for 2 peoples to live together. “Justice” is a very problematic concept esp. when 2 peoples are blowing ea. other’s brains out over it.
Then you don’t read Haaretz & perhaps should change yr daily newspaper or start reading one if you don’t already.
Four men who were doing nothing more than sitting in a car got their brains blown out & you want to quibble over whether “mass” or “multiple” is a more apt word to describe the massacre. You don’t see how pathetic that sounds?
Propagandist? Because I’m complaining about IDF assassins firing 2 minutes worth of bullets into the bodies of four men & then finishing them off w. the coup de grace as if it were a Mafia hit? I’m sorry if strong language bothers you. I thought it was more than warranted by the heinousness of the act. I’ll tell you what, the day the IDF stops butchering people like this is the day you won’t hear any more complaints fr. me on this score. But until that happens I’m afraid the word will have to put up w. my “carping.”
Because a man is “wanted” this justifies shooting him in the back with no warning? And what was he “wanted” for? And what proof is there that he actually DID whatever he was wanted for?
So you are prepared to justify murder in cold blood based on the fact that they “probably” (can you provide any proof other than the IDF’s word?) are not innocent??
According to reports in Haaretz that I read most of the men had not engaged in acts of violent resistance in a long time & none were in the midst of planning such acts or imminently about to implement them. This was not a hot pursuit of “ticking bombs.”
The IDF did something that in any other civilized country would bring the murderers up on charges of murder in a court of law. Now if that’s acceptable to you fine. That tells us a lot about yr moral compass. It’s not acceptable to me. It’s not acceptable to most of the rest of the world. It wouldn’t even be acceptable to many Israelis if they bothered to read their newspaper to find out what their army does in their name.
The Palestinians saw this act by the IDF as an act of terrorism & mass murder. Many others do as well. The fact that you can’t be inconvenienced enough to feel any sympathy again tells us how dried up the well of menschlichkeit is among Israelis like you.
You also betray an all too eager readiness to accept everything you are told by your army. They are “terrorists” therefore their lives are of no value. What precisely did any of them do to deserve the appelation? You can’t be bothered to find out. You just accept what your ‘betters’ tell you like a good citizen automaton.
You know the Nazis called Jewish partisans “bandits” and thereby justified liquidating them like vermin. What’s the difference? One Nazi’s bandit is another Jew’s hero. One Israeli’s terrorist is another Palestinian’s resistance hero.
You make unwarranted assumptions about me and my community. All you know about me is that I live in Israel, yet you immediately pigeonhole me, presumably because you need to project your closed-mindedness onto me. The very fact that I viewed your blog and read some articles should indicate that I am willing to at least consider viewpoints different from my own. I sometimes read Haaretz – although not religiously – and I tried to read the article you referred to, but for some reason it would not load on my computer. I reciprocate by suggesting you (and your faithful readers) read Arutz Sheva.
I can understand your position vis a vis Israel and the Arabs; it’s just that I don’t agree with it. You seem to believe, because you are willing to act with Christian understanding toward the Arabs, that they will act with similar tolerance toward the Jews, but again and again the Arabs declare their intent to destroy us, and again and again their actions give credence to their threats.
You ask for the Jews to play ball with the Arabs, but you don’t demand that the Arabs play ball with us. You make a fuss when four alleged terrorists are executed and you all but approve the murder of eight Yeshiva students. You expect Israelis to capture terrorists alive and bring them to trial (presumably you want the IDF’s informers to testify against them in court and thus jeopardize their lives too) and then, when they are found guilty, you no doubt want the terrorists transferred into the hands of the Palestinian Authority in a show of faith – so they can escape again after a few months… You decry the notion of executions, but you complain even more vehemently if the IDF attempts to eliminate terrorists by bombing them, thus risking the lives of their neighbors instead of Israeli soldiers.
And you make a big deal because a bullet was fired into the head of each terrorist. Use common sense: if the order was given to kill them, then it makes sense to ensure that they are dead, not merely maimed. After all, people like you are going to whine about the operation anyway: if the job is going to be done, let it be done properly.
And, yes, I still contend that your use of the word “mass” is inappropriate. I reiterate that your use of it reveals your lack of impartiality, your desire to paint Jews – in this case, the IDF – as monstrous. If I quibble about language it is because I want you and your readers to be aware of your (possibly unconscious) bias.
As to the possible innocence of the victims: the eyewitness knew that Shehadeh was wanted by the IDF. If casual bystanders knew he was a wanted man, doesn’t his very notoriety suggest he was a bad man? Or do you suppose it was a parking infraction that the IDF risked its soldiers to punish?
No. These men were criminals, terrorists. That they hadn’t “engaged in acts of violent resistance in a long time” doesn’t excuse them. And how you know that “none were in the midst of planning such acts” amazes me. This example of your omniscience is even more impressive than your observations about me and my community.
You are very wrong about my attitude to my government. I do not blindly believe whatever I am told. I am aware of only some of its faults, however, and those which enrage me most are the injustices perpetrated against Jews. Why don’t you scream for justice for Israel’s right wing, for the settlers? They are imprisoned without trial because they impede current government policy. Many have been framed and a few have been murdered; but because telling their stories does not support the goals of the Leftist media, the stories go untold and uncommented on by you. Yes,you should read Arutz Sheva. Write about the recent ordeal of Tzvia Sariel, or about the current crisis endured by the Halamish brothers. That’s what tikun olam is all about….
And, finally, yes it is acceptable to me that the “IDF did something that in any other civilized country would bring the murderers up on charges of murder in a court of law.” Israel is held to different standards – look at all the UN resolutions against Israel – so now it has become appropriate for Israel to act by different standards in order to survive. You may not agree with this, yet. When the Jewish Community Center in Seattle is attacked on a regular basis, perhaps your moral compass will waver.
Richard Silverstein says
I’ll throw that comment right back in yr face, my friend. You come here for the first time, read a post & immediately make false assumptions about what I believe & who I am. I’ll tell you what. You stop making false generalizations about me, read more of my blog, & I’ll try to stop making generalizations about you that you feel are unfounded. But I have to say that unlike yr generalizations about me which are blatantly false, the generalizations I made about you are based on statements you actually made & from which I quoted. There is a difference.
You suggest that Haaretz & Arutz Sheva are on a par journalistically? You can’t be serious. Arutz Sheva is a fact-challenged propaganda outlet equivalent to the Drudge Report, American Thinker or the National Review. Why would I expect to find serious journalism there? And what I’m looking for is serious journalism. BTW, I sometimes do read the Jerusalem Post because once in a while they do publish serious journalism. Arutz Sheva does not publish serious, accurate journalism. If there’s ever such a story in Arutz Sheva you’re welcome to send me a link. Otherwise, I’ll pass.
I resent you twisting my goal and associating it with Christianity in order to diminish it and me. What I am doing is JEWISH, not Christian in origin.
This is racist. You are racist. There is no such thing as “all Arabs” do, say or believe anything. When you make such blanket statements you reveal yr own hate as much as you claim to reveal theirs.
This is a despicable lie & you hover right on the edge of being banned. I will not tolerate false smears of what I believe. I simply won’t.
I have absolutely no interest in entering into a quarrel with you over yr hopelessly twisted views of Arabs. This blog’s goal is not to wade into the muck that swirls through your brain about Islam & Arabs. That’s something you’ll have to deal w. somewhere else. If you don’t agree w. my views that’s fine. But I’m simply not willing to try to persuade you that your own views are full of ignorance (which they are).
Once again you make the gross presumption to know what I believe while you actually are completely ignorant on that score. And btw, I’m in favor of allowing Israel to kidnap & try Palestinians in Israel if Israel is prepared for Palestinians to kidnap & try Israelis on their territory.
TWO MINUTES worth of shooting into the car happened! Do you know nothing about modern weaponry enough to know that whatever was alive in the car was killed far before the 2 minutes to shooting ended, let alone that a final bullet was necessary to ensure they were dead. As Haaretz wrote, the final shot was the Mafia hit man’s final act of humiliation against the victim & a warning to all other wanted men (notice I didnt’ say “guilty” or “terrorists” since there’s no way any of us can know that after a summary execution) that this is the fate they await.
Just the point. I reject the notion that the job has to be done in the way it was done.
I am partial to Israel and its real long term interests. I am not partial to murder, massacre & mayhem perpetrated in Israel’s name by an IDF masquerading as little better than a Mafia hit squad. And you ARE impartial??
There have been hundreds of right-wing commenters like you before who’ve taken it on themselves to try to englighten my readers about the “truth” as you see it. Spare us. This isn’t the time or place for yr propaganda efforts.
That is laughable. “Wanted” doesn’t mean “guilty.” It means wanted. Wanted for what? Who knows? Does the intelligence apparatus get to judge a person & send them to their fate based on whim rather than any formal system of justice that most other countries would use to judge guilty or innocence? Where is the evidence? Unlike you, I’m not willing to trust an IDF officer’s word w/o any proof or evidence. It’s already been proven that the IDF lies through its teeth when it is convenient to do so. You are prepared to put up w. the lies, I am not.
Again, you have no proof therefore yr claim is completely lacking in foundation. Pasul. Trief. Gornisht.
Unlike you I don’t say things that aren’t based on evidence. Haaretz journalists based these statements on government sources. It is true that they were not planning acts of terror.
Just as I said. Your anger towards yr government has nothing to do w. its treatment of Arabs, but everything to do w. its treatment of settlers, who you ardently support. Now we know where you stand. Thanks for making that clear.
The fact that the Seattle Jewish federation office WAS attacked by an insane individual muttering anti-Israel slogans has not changed my views about Arabs or the I-P conflict one iota.