Attempts to retroactively portray Friday’s demonstrators as Hamas militants, stone-throwers, or human shields serves only one purpose: to quiet the Israeli conscience.
The Israeli army and Israel’s hasbara apparatus wasted no time blaming the 16 Palestinians killed by Israeli army snipers last Friday for their own deaths. Infographics were released within hours. Talking points distributed. Israel was defending its sovereign border, they said.
Two videos published on the day of the carnage in Gaza, however, show a different story. They appear to show Israeli snipers positioned behind dirt mounds on the other side of the border fence shooting and killing unarmed protesters — carrying neither weapons nor rocks nor Molotov cocktails — who posed absolutely no threat to security forces — or anyone, for that matter.
The first video appears to show Israeli soldiers shooting 19-year-old Abdel Fattah Abdel Nabi in the back as he is running while holding a tire (tires are often burned by protesters across the world, including by Jewish Israelis, to provide smoke screens as protection from security forces).
A second video published the same day appears to show soldiers shooting a Palestinian demonstrator as he gets up following prayers. Like Abdel Nabi, the protester poses no threat to the soldiers.
The Israeli army accused Hamas of published edited or fabricated videos, but at least the top video exists from multiple angles and was witnessed by a number of people. The army also claimed that most of those killed were Hamas militants, but The Washington Post reported that there were no signs of affiliation with the Islamist group at Abdel Fattah Abdel Nabi’s funeral and that his family denied he was in any way connected to the group.
But if the above videos teach us anything, it is that Israel needed no pretext for shooting and killing those 16 protesters. In fact, Israeli generals told the cabinet ahead of time that there would be Palestinian casualties. Attempts to retroactively portray them as Hamas militants, stone-throwers, or human shields serves only one purpose: to quiet the Israeli conscience.