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Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif, 21, on street in Hebron before he was executed. March 24, 2016.


Let’s begin with the facts. About two weeks ago, on April 3rd, a Palestinian named Muhammad ‘Abd Al Fatah, a resident of the Hirbat Qais near Silfit, stoned several cars with Israeli registration plates near the Beita village square. A settler named Yehoshua Sherman fired several shots at ‘Abd Al Fatah from within his vehicle; then Sherman left his vehicle, and advanced towards ‘Abd Al Fatah, who was taking cover, and he and another Israeli shot him several times, wounding him; the two, advancing towards the bleeding and unarmed Al Fatah, murdered him as he lay bleeding on the ground.

So far, everything according to SOP, standard operating procedure.

Mohammad Abdul-Mon’em Abdel-Fattah, 23, killed on April 3 at a checkpoint, reportedly by a settler. Photo from IMEMC.

Mohammad Abdul-Mon’em Abdel-Fattah, 23, killed on April 3. Photo from IMEMC.

Immediately afterwards, the IDF Spokesman announced ‘Abd Al Fatah was killed “while carrying out a knife attack.”

There was no knife and no knife attack, but hey, it’s the IDF Spokesman. Lying is what it does.

So far, everything according to SOP.

The Israeli media reported the murder as a thwarted knife attack, just as the IDF Spokesman wanted it to do.

So far, everything according to SOP.

To the best of my knowledge, the Israeli police did not detain the shooters, did not interrogate them, and did not investigate the incident, even though a person was killed. After all, he wasn’t really a person; merely a Palestinian.

So far, everything according to SOP.

The one thing deviating from SOP, at least as we knew it so far, is that soon after the murder, IDF militants raided two businesses in the region, confiscated two security cameras, viewed the content, and then deleted at least the footage of one camera.

This came up as part of a report of B’Tselem on the incident yesterday (Monday), with the human rights NGO once more taking on the job the media, MPCID, the police and the prosecution didn’t bother doing.

The IDF militants did not detain the Israeli shooters, as they were legally supposed to, but that was to be expected. A vast majority of the militants are unaware they have any detention rights vis a vis settlers. On the other hand, they showed unexpected initiative when they confiscated the documentation and wiped out some of it. True esprit de corps.

What happened here? It’s probably not that complicated. I’d be very much surprised if any officer as senior than a platoon commander was involved. No more senior officer would have taken the risk of collaborating with a crime.

The militants merely put into practice the legacy of the Azaria affair: destroy the cameras.

Elor Azaria was the IDF militant who three years ago shot Abdel Fattah Al Sharif, a Palestinian who stabbed an Israeli soldier. Azaria arrived on the scene 11 minutes after the knife attack, and shot the wounded Al Sharif in the head, killing him. Azaria had the misfortune of being filmed by a B’Tselem camera. He was given a laughable punishment, and he may yet translate that misfortune into great fortune: he’s a hot hero on the right. Don’t be surprised if he’ll be in the Likud’s list next elections.

Following the murder – and, as this needs to be repeated, shooting a wounded, unarmed person is murder – the right wing began a campaign whining that now soldiers would hesitate to shoot terrorists. Bennett and Shaked – don’t let the door hit you on your way out, my lovelies – made this grotesque fantasy a mainstay of their election campaign. When he wasn’t terrorizing doves, Bennett went singing, “My commander says: you must charge, my lawyer says: you may regret it.”

The claim that soldiers need lawyers on the battlefield because jurists are tying their hands isn’t new. It surfaced in the Vietnam War, if memory serves as part of the debate after the My Lai Massacre; it’s been used by the Israeli right since the First Intifada (as a participant in that conflict, on the wrong side, I can say with certainty none of us even heard of lawyers); and the claim became an epidemic after the Azaria affair. Bennett and the rabble following him told us soldiers would be afraid to shoot.

Which, of course, didn’t happen. IDF militants were never afraid to shoot. They always knew the command will cover for them, as long as they weren’t filmed in action.

The militants drew the right lesson from the Azaria affair: now they’re removing the cameras.

Why are they removing cameras when it’s the settlers who committed the crime? For two reasons. First, they grew up in a country obsessed with hasbara. Anything that may harm the image of the occupation. And, after all, the settlers are just another arm of the Israeli regime. Yes, the several arms may sometimes quarrel, but everyone knows they’re working towards the same goal. Just as do the journalists who didn’t bother to check the IDF Spokesman’s bulletin: they didn’t need an order. They already knew their role.

The ball is now in the court of the Israeli police: Will it open a murder investigation? I wouldn’t hold my breath. The law is a dead letter in the West Bank, much as it was in 1930s Mississippi. The Judea and Samaria Police District, many of whose officers are settlers, knows there will be no public pressure on it to investigate the case of the murder of Muhammad ‘Abd Al Fatah.

So it goes in the only Jewish military dictatorship in the world.



Si vous votez aux Elections Européennes, demandez au parti ou candidat de votre choix s'il réclamera la libération de la Palestine dans ses frontières de 1967 avec Jérusalem au moins comme co-capitale et la reconnaissance diplomatique de cet état libéré par le votre. Si ce candidat est d'accord, je voterai pour lui. Si je n'en trouve pas, je ne voterai pas !

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