IDF Kills 4 Palestinians, Wounds 23 During Protest
When you write a blog as long as I’ve written this one and you cover a subject as tragic as the one I do, you are bound to write posts like this one that are full of tragedy, violence and pure waste of human life. While the IDF and Israeli government have been cracking down on dissenting NGOs within Israel and criminalizing their speech, they have taken an even harder line against Palestinians. Recently, they declared the villages of Bilin and Naalin, which featured weekly demonstrators by Palestinians and Israelis against the Apartheid Wall, a closed military zone. This rendered any demonstrations illegal.
But they continue anyway in other places. On March 20th, the 17th and 18th Palestinians were killed (since 2002) demonstrating against the Wall in the village of Iraq Burin. They were two teenage cousins. The first, 16 year old Muhammad Ibrahim Qaddous who was killed almost immediately by several shots. While his cousin, Ussayed Jamal Abd en-Nasser Qaddous, was attempting to drag him to safety, the cousin was also mortally wounded. Along with these deaths (since all those killed and wounded were unarmed civilians engaging in no hostile action whatsoever can we call them murders?), 23 others were wounded. Peace activist Emily Stark was shot in the hand and her wrist broken, requiring surgery. Israeli blogger, Didi Remez, while 90 feet from Israeli soldiers with whom he was talking, was shot repeatedly with rubber bullets in both legs and his testicles, which required stitches. They were not as solicitous of the Palestinians.
Unfortunately, neither the deaths nor the other savagery here are unusual. What IS unusual is that the IDF got its signals crossed in a major way and claimed that no live fire occurred during this incident. They said that only rubber bullets were used. They tried to blame the PA security forces saying their bullets might’ve killed the protesters (who would remotely credit the notion that a Palestinian police officer would fire live bullets at a non-violent Palestinian demonstrator?). Unfortunately for them, subsequent autopsies and medical scans indicate that the deaths were likely caused by live bullets. So either the soldiers in the field disobeyed orders and then lied about it, or they were following orders to use live fire and their superiors lied about it. Either way, this doesn’t look good for the IDF.
Is this what a democratic nation does when it faces unarmed protesters resisting injustice? It fires on them with impunity, even on its own citizens? Have you no shame, Israel, at long last have you no shame (to paraphrase Joseph Welch’s famous evisceration of Joe McCarthy)?
In a separate incident, which also occurred near Nablus on the same day, two other Palestinian teenagers working their fields were killed by soldiers who claimed one of them was preparing to use his pitchfork as a weapon. The story was disputed by witnesses who said the alleged weapon remained on the ground during the entire incident.
Of course the army announced an investigation. They always do. And you know where they always lead: nowhere. So let’s see what happens in this case. This would be business as usual for the IDF were it not for the tinderbox conditions that exist in Israel-Palestine due to multiple provocative Israeli actions like the Ramat Shlomo housing construction announcement, which have evoked angry reactions and calls for Intifada from Palestinians.
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26 thoughts on “IDF Kills 4 Palestinians, Wounds 23 During Protest – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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There should be a “Goldstone” report about this. Too. If Bibi Netanyahu directs his army to shoot at people who are merely demonstrating, he is guilty of something. Personally. If they shoot with lethal ammunition (I don’t understand the naming conventions — “live” ammunition for “deadly” bullets?) or shoot any kind of bullets in such a way as to endanger human beings, where there was no threat of disorder, no violence, no damaging of property which it was the army’s duty to protect, etc., etc., they are guilty of something.
Israel is assuming that it can “teach” the world that it is OK for Israel to treat some people as “lesser beings without the law”, as persons with no rights whatever. The lawlessness belongs, however, to Israel. I hope that the world soon comes to realize this and to act against it.
Why single out Netanyahu as if this were something new? Every Israeli government has directed the army to shoot at people, including Israel’s own “equal” non-Jewish citizens, who were merely demonstrating, or engaged in other non-life-or-property-threatening conduct. It is an Israeli tradition.
This kind of thing has been happening to Palestinians for 62 years. Shirin is right, it is nothing new. Perhaps the only thing that has changed is that now we have the internet (thank God) which transports this information to the world faster than the Israelis can stop it.
Unfortunately, it still looks as if murdered Palestinians are unimportant in the scheme of things; we know nothing will be done about these murders, just as nothing was done about many thousands of others. Your life is cheap, if you’re a Palestinian.
I would not say Palestinian lives are cheap, I would say they were an impediment to the Zionist goals, and they are and always have been an impediment to Israel’s goals. With extremely rare exceptions – Moshe Sharett is the only exception that immediately comes to mind – Israeli leaders have considered the very existence of Palestinians to be a problem to be overcome. Ditto for the Zionists. Zionist apologists are fond of citing Judah Magnes and Ahad Ha’am as evidence that the Zionists really, really cared about the Palestinians, but the fact that they cannot come up with more than these two names in contrast to virtually every other Zionist leader shows the desperation of their argument.
Shirin, the world perceives Palestinian lives as cheap. When a Palestinian dies, there is barely a ripple. Proof of this is the anticlimactic (but not unexpected) outcome of the Dubai murder of Mahmoud al Mabhouh; if he had been a Frenchman, or a Swede, or a Japanese, would this blow over so easily? Big deal – Australia and the UK kicked out the Israeli envoys, but they will be replaced. There are four young Palestinian men in the West Bank who have been murdered in cold blood – where is the call for an independent investigation? The world just looks the other way while Israel kills Palestinians. This shows that very little value is placed on their lives.
I’m not sure why you are arguing with me, Mary. Yes, most of the world shows very little concern over Palestinian (and Iraqi, and Lebanese, and Iranian, and Afghan, and Pakistani, and Yemeni) lives. In addition to that in the minds of most Israelis Palestinian lives are not merely without value, they are and have always been mainly an impediment to the realization of Zionism’s goals. Both things are true, would you not agree?
I do think you did not choose the best example for your point, though, in Mahmoud Al Mabhouh. If he had been a Frenchman, or a Swede, or a Japanese who was involved in what most of the world views, rightly or wrongly, as terrorism, I doubt the reaction would have been greatly different than it was, since after all, he would have been viewed as a criminal or worse regardless of his nationality. What is most shameful is the lack of regard in the western world for the lives of Palestinian men, women, and children who are not involved in armed resistance. This is particularly egregious when you compare that to the high regard in which they hold the lives of western men, women, and children, including Israeli lives (Israel is, and after all prides itself in being a Western country).
Shirin, that is exactly what I meant. But as always, you said it better than I. 🙂
Thank you for writing on these incidents and raising the issue of the abuse of Palestinians rights. Palestinian fatalities should no longer be mere statistics that the world ignores and forgets.
And just today 2 more Palestinians were killed in Gaza by the IDF. The IDF killed them inside the buffer zone in Gaza because they allege they were planting explosives near the wall. Then the IDF crossed over into Gaza with their tanks provoking a fire-fight in which 2 IDF soldiers were then killed in a fire-fight that ensued.
Also, a Palestinian student was released from prison two days ago. While travelling on a bus back to his home he was removed by Israeli police, taken to a cell and beaten to a pulp:
“A’laa al-din, who studies English and French at Hebron University, was returning by bus from Bethlehem on March 15. At the “container” checkpoint south of Abu Dis, two members of the Border Police boarded the bus. One of them took A’laa al-din’s ID card, and seeing he was from Ma’sara, whose residents demonstrate weekly against the separation fence on their land, ordered him off the bus.”
He was repeatedly beaten, and suffered some “other” indignity and then taken to a prison and held for 5 days without trial until a military judge finally released him.
Of course, this is not the first time Palestinians suffer this type of abuse of their rights at the hands of Israeli authorities, and even children have been subjected to such treatment as per the testimony of the female IDF officers that spoke with Breaking the Silence.
Sigh. Rubber bullets are not made out of rubber. They are fairly thick steel slugs with rubber or plastic coating. They can’t be fired directly from an IDF M-16 — they are fitted into an adapter at the muzzle, and a blank cartridge in the chamber propels them. Because the rubber-coated slugs are much bigger and heavier than a regular bullet, their velocity is much less than a regular bullet. I saw these exactly once, as they were being phased in about 10 years ago. My understanding is that they have not changed.
Energy transfer to the targeted person increases linearly with bullet mass but with the square of the velocity, so the penetrating power of the “rubber” bullet is far less than a regular bullet and the aim is far less sure. But they are still damn dangerous.
Some IDF soldiers also may use a cheap trick with rubber bullets. I’ve been told this anecdotally but have never seen it done: They may use lighter-weight slugs to up the velocity. And for close-in work, where a single rubber bullet round might have two or three slugs, they pull the round apart and use only one of the slugs. Officers have to control the renegades by inspecting the muzzle adapters or slugs in the soldiers’ pockets to make sure the slugs are “standard.” Not easy in a riot, but that’s what supposedly used to be done. I’ve heard that inspections are rarer now, but I can’t confirm it — I’ve never been in a riot anywhere where that particular equipment is used.
The world’s riot police and riot-trained soldiers have a wide variety of these things, including thick-barrel guns that shoot the large “rubber” rounds or rubber-coated shotgun pellets directly, rather than with a muzzle adapter. These supposedly are safer and less easy to tamper with. But they, too, can be lethal.
editorsteve: No kidding. We know the rubber bullets aren’t made of rubber. Even if they were, they’re killing people.
That’s the whole point: THEY ARE KILLING PEOPLE.
Steve, virtually every time you post something like this you come off as an arch apologist, even when you appear to be criticizing Israel. As you observed, so-called “rubber” bullets can be and frequently are deadly, whether or not they are “misused” in the manner you described. Reports of Palestinian, Israeli, and international human rights and medical groups, notably B’tselem, among others, contain numerous verified accounts of deaths and severe maimings from “rubber” bullets, including no small percentage of child victims. They can and do penetrate flesh and even bone. In addition, wounds caused by “rubber” bullets tend to resist healing and are exceptionally subject to infection. I am personally acquainted with several people, Palestinians and European human rights workers, who have suffered wounds from “rubber” bullets that did not heal for months.
Second, you seem to be in a certain amount of denial that the Israeli military might have been using live ammunition in the incident in question. Come on! There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of very well documented incidents over the years in which the Israeli military insisted it had used only “rubber” bullets when there was absolute proof they had used live ammunition against unarmed, non-violent demonstrators, and that live ammunition had killed and wounded Palestinians and others. If you are as experienced and knowledgeable as you claim to be you cannot possibly be unaware of this fact. In this case you are coming across quite disingenuous, I am afraid.
Please note that I did not say you ARE an apologist or that you are being disingenuous, because I do not know that for a fact. However, you consistently come across that way.
Mary, what’s your problem? I agree with you.
You may know that “rubber” bullets aren’t rubber (not that it would make much difference if they were), but at least one responder to the post did not. And the post itself talked about investigating. I wanted to note that the investigations are almost always a dead end because the people firing the slugs can cheat and make them more lethal.
If I were a prosecutor, I’d want to see the inspection reports by the officers. No reports? Extra evidence of callousness.
You miss the point entirely, steve. Rubber, no rubber, what difference does it make???? The deaths of unarmed Palestinians go unaccounted for.
Mary, you already made that point, and it is obvious. Why do I have to? The original post said
“Unfortunately for them, subsequent autopsies and medical scans indicate that the deaths were likely caused by live bullets. So either the soldiers in the field disobeyed orders and then lied about it, or they were following orders to use live fire and their superiors lied about it. Either way, this doesn’t look good for the IDF.”
I was merely pointing out that the evidentiary trail is more confused than that — it is easier than one might think to kill someone and hide the method.
The sound of a live round firing is really quite different than the blank and slug, BTW, so audio recordings might pick it up.
Steve: These protestors are quite used to demonstrating & the weapons the IDF uses to suppress them. If they believe, & the doctors confirm, that live ammo was used I believe them. Besides, did you see how far into the brain that round penetrated? I’m no expert, but I’d say that’s likely to be a live bullet. And the fact that the IDF is trying to obfuscate by saying that the live round could’ve been fired by a PA police officer indicates to me that even the IDF is ready to concede that live rounds were fired. So the question is who lied & who gets the blame? The soldiers in the field or their superiors? Someone fucked up badly even by the IDF’s own terms.
“I was merely pointing out that the evidentiary trail is more confused than that — it is easier than one might think to kill someone and hide the method.”
Not when the projectiles removed from the victims turn out to be “live” bullets, and not when bullets, shell casings, and other evidence of live ammunition firing are found at the scene, as is generally the case in situations like this.
“The sound of a live round firing is really quite different than the blank and slug”
And you don’t think that Palestinians who have lived under Israeli occupation and being fired on for decades, and Israelis and internationals with experience in these matters know that and can tell the difference? Or are you suggesting they are lying when they say that the Israelis were firing live ammunition?
I agree with you, Richard. But I couldn’t tell on the photo because I don’t know the path the bullet took –front, back, side. Could be an altered slug but maybe a live round not from an M16 — from a sidearm instead. Recordings used to settle the argument fairly often, because the rifle makes a really signature noise but the soldiers learned to use other methods. An M16 round is pretty small but has a lot of powder behind it. Makes a kind of extra-sharp sound.
Also, an M16 magazine full of standard cartridges will weigh a lot more than one full of blanks for the “rubber” bullets so it would be easy to check by “feel.” The “not checking” is to me scarier than a couple of rogue soldiers playing God. Suggests rot in the ranks, rot that commanders aren’t interested in fixing. How high does it go?
Steve, what is the point in playing forensics expert when nothing will every be done about it??? And it’s not the first time – the Israeli Army has been killing Palestinians this way for years. There’s a list, I think it is available on the ISM website, but this list includes at least one 10 year old who was shot to death at a protest at the Wall. The point is that Israel is killing Palestinians this way, and no one cares whether the bullets were coated with rubber or magic dust. The fact that Israel does this with impunity is the issue.
“Could be an altered slug but maybe a live round not from an M16 — from a sidearm instead.”
What on earth difference does it make whether it was fired from an M16 or a sidearm? It is a live bullet, therefore they were firing live ammunition. Or are you suggesting that if it came from a sidearm it was not fired by an Israeli?
“the rifle makes a really signature noise but the soldiers learned to use other methods.”
And you think demonstrators experienced in being fired upon are not able to tell the difference?
something like 5000 deaths in a decade. Move the responsibility upstream — we don’t get anywhere spinning around the individual soldiers because they’ve learned to hide the evidence. But the very fact that they CAN hide the evidence suggests higher-ups are acting with impunity.
You’re absolutely right, steve. The soldiers are merely agents; they follow orders. Even if a rogue decided to fire live rounds, it makes no difference; the IDF is ultimately responsible.
“Move the responsibility upstream”….”The soldiers are merely agents; they follow orders.”
Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh no! The soldiers bear absolute responsibility for their individual criminal and murderous actions. Following orders does not absolve them for one moment. The responsibility lies from the very top politicians who make national policy, to the military commanders who make military policy, to the officers who either give the orders or turn a blind eye, and all the way down to the soldier who commits the act. No one, and I mean no one, is innocent, and no one, including the one who pulls the trigger, gets a pass. They are all bloody murderers.
I think what Steve hints at is strategy, not moral or legal absolution of the lowest links in the chain of command. The rule is that incidents like these are internally investigated, let alone prosecuted, not on the merits of the case but according to the possible PR damage they might cause for Israel, like when there are Western journalists, best with cameras, around, or Westerners get injured.
To try and introduce the Nuremberg principles into internal Israeli army procedure is hopeless at the moment, and the civilian judiciary isn’t much better. The ICC doesn’t have the resources to go after every lowly grunt individually. Western governments, mainstream press, and public opinion aren’t interested in this kind of small fry, especially when the victims are non-persons such as Palestinians. “Moving the responsibility upstream”, publicly implicating the higher-ups may indeed be the only way to get the case heard at all. But this approach has got no chance without the evidence to back it up, otherwise it will instantly, and all-too-happily be dismissed with the old anti-semitism canard.
And what I am talking about is what we absolutely must recognize and can never ignore, regardless of “strategy”. You can “move the responsibility upstream” all you want, but if you do not recognize and openly acknowledge that the ultimate responsibility for an act lies with the person who commits that act you are granting impunity to the murderer, to the bulldozer driver who demolishes a home, the torturer, the destroyers of life and hope. If you absolve the person who commits the act, or worse yet, make him the victim as many in the U.S. have tried to do for their troops by “moving the responsibility upstream”, then nothing significant will really change.
Buffy Sainte Marie said it in Universal Soldier:
Yes, he’s to blame, they’re all to blame, but the fact remains that no one will be held to account. The IDF will fake an investigation and issue a conclusion saying that no one did anything wrong or illegal, and that it was the fault of the victims that they got killed. As always. If they can get away with murdering 10-year-olds, they will get away with this, too.
I happen to agree with Shirin here. The person who fires is a criminal. What I’m trying to get across is that an army ends up with more rogues if the chain of command looks the other way, or even appears to. US politicians are often insensitive to this because few have actually served in the military. (I have not, but I’ve interviewed plenty who have… and have close relatives who have.) But Israeli politicians (except for some of the ultra-orthodox wingnuts, who didn’t have to serve) do not have that no-service excuse.
Just to clarify, I’m not trying to make excuses at all. Just the opposite:
1. I do not believe live rounds came from the Palestinian side. IDF is silly for suggesting it.
2. Live rounds were not even necessary to cause the deaths.
3. “Rubber” bullets can be made even more lethal, clandestinely, and fired with relative impunity; officers used to check soldiers’ kits for altered rounds and live rounds. If they didn’t this time (or any time) that is strong evidence of malfeasance… and after Gaza, one would think they’d be extra careful if the institution cared. So looking for live rounds may be a diversion.
4. Live firing from an M16 is really easy to track by the sound, so live rounds may come from clandestine side arms and investigators have to look for them, too.
All that brings new “wild cards” — unpredictability — to the riot scenes that play out in Palestine. Not a good thing. If IDF is deliberately doing that, from the top down in the chain of command, and politicians are consciously encouraging it, they are all war criminals.
They are also stupid and sort-sighted. Rogue troops don’t stop with bullying/killing the “other guys.” Sooner or later they turn on their own. And recent events suggest they have.