Today an Israeli soldier executed a wounded Palestinian man on the ground in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron’s old city in the occupied West Bank.
In a B’Tselem video (below, viewers should be warned of graphic video) capturing the killing, the man can be seen semi-conscious on the ground, when a soldier cocks his rifle and fires, blowing his brains out.
Before the shooting, voices can be heard asking in Hebrew, “Is the dog alive?”
Israeli forces killed a second Palestinian in the same incident. The men are alleged to have carried out a stabbing attack on a soldier.
In another video, an Israeli soldier can be seen kicking over the body of one of the Palestinian men.
The two Palestinian men have been identified as Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, 21, and Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif, 21.
The Tel Rumeida neighborhood has faced severe restrictions and been declared a closed military by the Israeli military since November 1, 2015.
Since October, 2015, 203 Palestinians and 30 Israelis have been killed, according to Ma’an News Agency.
Medics leaving Palestinians to die
The video depicts the injured Israeli soldier receiving medical treatment and being evacuated by a settler ambulance seconds before the Palestinian man is executed. The wounded Israeli soldier sits up in a stretcher, indicating that his injuries are presumably much less severe than either of the Palestinian men lying on the ground.
This is in breach of internationally recognized protocol of triage, which requires that the wounded are treated by the severity of their injury and likelihood to benefit from immediate treatment.
In response to today’s killing the Israeli military spokesperson initially said the filmed execution “contradicts the IDF’s ethical code and what is expected from the IDF’s soldiers and commanders” and that the soldier has been suspended while the military conducts a probe.
But the policy of summary executions has been ordered as a directive from top political and military officials, as seen in the video Willful Killing.
Here are some recent examples:
On October 9, 2015, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon announced at a press conference, “Right now is it required to respond quickly to any local attack to eliminate the terrorist stabber or the perpetrator stone thrower and the like, immediately, on the spot.”
On October 14th, 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told paramilitary Border Police units “I know that it requires your discretion, but have no doubt: You have complete backing – complete! – from me, from the Israeli government, and in my opinion from the nation in Israel.”
On October 8, 2015, Israeli military Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said, “Our policy of use of force is very clear. The IDF has complete freedom of action in order to to fulfill the mission to restore security.” Benti Sau, Israeli Police Acting Commissioner, said “From my personal experience, I can tell you that at this time, we have received backing from the political level, full backing from the legal system.”
On October 11, 2015, Yair Lapid, MK and Chairman of the Yesh Atid Party, “Whoever takes out a knife or a screwdriver, or whatever it may be, the directive needs to be shoot in order to kill. Not to hesitate. There will be full legal backing. The state gives full legal backing.”
Israa Abed, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, survived after being shot by Israeli police at a gas station in Afula. Initially charged with planning to carry out an attack, she was later cleared of charges. Defense Minister Ya’alon, however, criticized Israeli police for hesitating before shooting Abed, and called her a “terrorist.”
Execution as a religious commandment
Jewish religious leaders in Israel have also expressed support for summary executions of Palestinians.
Two weeks ago, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said that it’s a “mitzvah” (religious commandment) to kill armed Palestinians.
Prominent religious Zionist rabbi and head of Machon Meir yeshiva Uri Sherki said in January that there is an “obligation for Jews to kill terrorists before they kill us.”
Rabbi Ben-Tzion Mutzafi told his students, “It is commanded to take hold of his head and hit it against the ground until there is no longer any life in it.”
Public support for executions
A poll by the Israeli Democracy Institute found broad public support for the summary executions. 53% of Jewish Israelis support killing alleged attackers on-the-spot, even after their arrest and when they no longer pose a threat. In addition, Israeli civilians have incited soldiers and police to execute Palestinians on-the-spot. This can be seen in the killings of Fadi Alloun and Bashar Massalha.
Last month, when Israeli army chief of staff Gadi Eizenkot said that Israeli soldiers and police shouldn’t unload their magazines into Palestinian children armed with scissors, (referring to the shooting of 14-year-old Hadil Wajia Awad and her cousin) he faced the wrath of the Israeli right.
The irony of the chief of staff’s statement was apparently lost on his detractors. Eizenkot is the architect of Israel’s Dahiya Doctrine, which calls for disproportionate violence against civilian populations in order to turn them against armed resistance.
Members of Knesset turned on Eizenkot, accusing him of harming morale and even blaming an attack at a Rami Levy supermarket in the occupied West Bank on him. Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Bezalel Smotrich, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, and Minister of Internal Affairs Gilad Erdan all criticized Eizenkot for is statement.
Dan Cohen is an independent journalist based in Palestine. He tweets at @dancohen3000.
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