Mustafa Tamimi, a 28 year old resident of Nabi Saleh, was fatally shot in the head at close range by a tear gas canister fired by an IDF soldier from the rear of a patrol vehicle. You can see the moment just before Mustafa was hit in this photo. The original caption for the photo offered by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee says it was fired from 30 feet. Using the high velocity weapon they use, it is quite easy to kill someone from that distance. Not to mention that the purpose of the firing of this weapon in this circumstance had nothing to do with crowd control as tear gas is normally used. Rather in aiming the shot at the protesters head, it was a deliberate act of murder:
In complete disregard to the army’s own open fire regulations, soldiers often shoot tear-gas projectiles directly at groups of protesters or individuals. Rubber-coated bullets are indiscriminately shot at protesters from short distances on a regular basis. The Israeli army also resumed the use of high velocity tear-gas projectiles in Nabi Saleh, despite the fact that they have been declared banned for use, after causing the death of Bassem Abu Rahmah in the neighboring village of Bil’in, in April 2009, and the critical injury of American protester Tristan Anderson in Ni’ilin in March of the same year.
Here is a bit of history behind the demonstrations in this particular village:
Late in 2009, settlers began gradually taking over Ein al-Qaws (the Bow Spring), which rests on lands belonging to Bashir Tamimi, the head of the Nabi Saleh village council. The settlers, abetted by the army, erected a shed over the spring, renamed it Maayan Meir, after a late settler, and began driving away Palestinians who came to use the spring by force – at times throwing stones or even pointing guns at them, threatening to shoot.
While residents of Nabi Saleh have already endured decades of continuous land grab and expulsion to allow for the ever continuing expansion of the Halamish settlement, the takeover of the spring served as the last straw that lead to the beginning of the village’s grassroots protest campaign of weekly demonstrations in demand for the return of their lands.
An IDF PR flack is tweeting that Tamimi’s murder was justified because he allegedly had a slingshot in his pocket. This is Goliath firing a high-velocity lethal projectile at David, who, if the IDF is to be believed (always a risky proposition) didn’t even have his slingshot in his hand, but rather in his pocket. This is the most egregious hilul I can imagine: blaming the victim for his own death. This horse’s ass of an IDF captain (no less–they must promote them for being cold-hearted assholes) also notes that Tamimi was arrested in 2010. Imagine that, he was one of the tens of thousands the IDF arrest every year for the terrible crime of protesting against the theft of their lands by settlers aided and abetted by the IDF. The IDF also prevented the dead man’s sister and father from visiting him in the hospital before he died.
Tamimi is the 20th Palestinian to be killed in the past eight years in such non-violent protests according to B’Tselem.
I hate to say it but this murder and Captain Barak Raz’s heartless response indicate that Israel, at least if its actions in this tragedy are representative, is losing the battle not just for its soul, but for its existence. A nation that murders in cold blood gradually loses its reason for being. Perhaps not in the eyes of its Jewish citizens, but almost certainly in the eyes of the world. And Israel simply cannot afford to find itself on the opposite side of every nation in the world. It will thanks to murders like this.