Palestinian killed by CS shell in Bil’in

Posted: April 17, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in IDF, Own Articles, Palestinians

Palestinian protestor confronts IDF soldier in Bil'in (illustration)

Palestinian protestor confronts IDF soldier in Bil'in (illustration)

30-years-old Bassem Ibrahim Abu-Rahma, was killed during a demonstration against the Separation Fence close to Palestinian village of Bil’in. Apparently, Abu-Rahma was hit by CS (tear) gas shell fired from IDF weapon:

The man, 30-year-old Bassem Ibrahim Abu-Rahma from Bilin, was evacuated to a Ramallah hospital in serious condition, where he then died of his wounds. The army confirmed the report of Abu-Rahma’s death.

Representatives of the IDF and the Coordination and Liaison Authority met with Palestinian officials later in the day as part of the joint investigation into the incident.

The IDF said violent riots broke out in the protest attended by some 100 Palestinians, leftists and foreigners, who threw stones at security forces. The forces responded with crowd control means.

Image 1

Image 1

A left wing-activist who took part in the demonstration called the IDF’s conduct “murderous,” adding “we are like sitting ducks.”

Coordination and Liaison Authority head Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai turned to the Palestinian security services and asked to conduct a joint medical examination to determine the circumstances of Abu-Rahma’s death.

Image 2

Image 2

While the video at Ynet English does not seem to work, you can view the footage at the Hebrew website. The footage shows the man actually getting hit by what seems like 40mm shell, and seems to suggest it was fired by a far-away standing IDF soldier – the footage first shows soldier, standing at a distance, preparing his weapon and then zooms out to the fence. Moment later the camera shows Abu-Rahma falling backwards and what seems to be a 40mm shell falling on the ground.

I believe IDF should thoroughly investigate the event to full extent.

Image 3

Image 3

However, I would refrain from making assumptions and would notice this: a) the IDF soldier visible when the camera zooms in prepares his firearm to fire a crowd dispersing system similar to what you can see on image 1 (basically, same shell, different rifle). The shell that allegedly hit the man, looked similar to what you can see on image 2, which is the 40mm shell, fired either from M203 under barrel grenade launcher (image 3, mounted on an M4 rifle), or from a riot gun (image 4). From the footage, however, it is impossible to understand if any of the soldiers carry such weapons; we can only see that the soldier camera zooms in on does not have such equipment. Another point is that the 40mm tear gas grenade usually has the black-and-white coloring, while the shell that hit Abu-Rahma has olive coloring – usually color of explosive grenade. It is also unclear why the grenade did not disperse gas – the footage

Image 4

Image 4

clearly shows the grenade just falling on the ground and no gas can be seen even later in the footage. In addition, apparently during the moment the shell hit Abu-Rahma, the picture goes ‘digitally garbled’. From past experience with international media (most famous of which is the Mohammad al-Durah case) we cannot rule out possibility that the video was doctored.

b) If a soldier shot into the crowd on purpose, he should be tried and jailed for years – there is no question about it. However, we should not forget that the demonstrated entered a closed military area. Violent riots take place almost weekly in Bil’in and protestors know exactly what price they might pay – and they still go there. When you enter a restricted area, weekly, in order to harm property and people, you will be a ‘sitting duck’ for soldiers willing to disperse crowd you associate with. The footage also never shows us the entire demonstration – just the part where the Palestinian man falls on the ground, thus we cannot rule out possibility of violent riots this time as well. The soldiers should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Yet, IDF still has responsibility to investigate the case. If the man was killed on purpose, his killer should rot in jail for decades.

  1. […] hundred people protested the killing of Bassem Ibrahim Abu-Rahma, yesterday near Palestinian town of Bil’in. According to news […]

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