A video published Thursday shows soldiers beating 33-year-old Yasin al-Saradih during a raid in the West Bank city of Jericho. Military sources say the beating was likely the cause of death.
Video published on social media Thursday appears to show IDF soldiers beating to death a Palestinian man during an arrest raid in the Palestinian city of Jericho, which according to the Oslo Accords is supposed to be under full Palestinian security control.
The video shows the man, 33-year-old Yasin al-Saradih, running in the direction of soldiers while holding an object resembling a lamp or a stool, before one soldier appears around a corner and attempts to shoot at him. More and more soldiers then appear and beat Saradih, which continues as they drag him away — which can be seen on another camera feed.
The army initially accused Saradih of attempting to steal the soldier’s weapon, but changed its story after video of the incident was published. Several reports in the Israeli media, citing military sources, say that an autopsy pointed toward the beating as the cause of Saradih’s death — and that he had not suffered any gunshot wounds.
The scene is reminiscent in many ways of the case of Elor Azaria, who was convicted of executing a disarmed and incapacitated Palestinian attacker in the Palestinian city of Hebron in March 2016. In that case, the initial reporting was simply “Soldier stabbed, assailants killed.” Everything changed a few hours later when video of the execution-style killing was published by B’Tselem volunteer Imad Abu Shamsiyeh.
In 2014, not even video of the sniper execution of two Palestinian teens at a protest in the West Bank town of Beitunia was enough to convince the Israeli establishment that a murder had taken place. It took several more camera angles, an autopsy, and a forensic examination of the bullet that killed Nadeem Nawara before his killer, Ben Deri, was put on trial. And even then, Deri was ultimately allowed a plea deal for negligent manslaughter.
Of course such extreme examples are not the only times the Israeli army has been caught telling a story that turned out to be very different once video appeared. After +972 Magazine obtained video of IDF officers throwing stones at and assaulting two photojournalists in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh in 2015, an army spokesperson described the officers’ behavior as using “reasonable force.” Once the army saw video of the incident, one of the officers was eventually sentenced to two weeks in military prison and the other, 30-days confinement on base.
Last month, the army reportedly decided not to prosecute a soldier who, against army regulations, fired into a moving car, killing a 15-year-old boy and wounding four others. For taking an innocent life as a result of disregarding all of the regulations meant to prevent such tragedies, the soldier will simply be discharged and begin his life as a civilian.
Between September 2000 and January 1, 2016, only six percent of Israeli Military Police investigations into the killing of Palestinians by soldiers resulted in indictments, according to data compiled by the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din. Far more killings are never investigated in the first place. (Full disclosure: my wife previously served as a legal counsel for Yesh Din.)