Soldiers arrest a Palestinian man before shooting his brother in the knee with a rubber bullet.
Israeli soldiers arrested a Palestinian volunteer with an Israeli human rights organization before shooting his brother in the knee with a rubber bullet earlier this month.
The incident took place on February 10 in the West Bank village of Adameh near Nablus as Israeli soldiers guarding the settlement of Yitzhar and its illegal satellite outposts fired tear gas at local Palestinian youths who were reportedly taking a walk nearby.
When Ahmad Ziyada, a Palestinian volunteer with Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem and a resident of Adameh showed up and began filming, the soldiers told him leave. Ziyada’s video shows three Israeli soldiers approaching Ziyada on his land. One of the soldiers, who appears to be an officer, repeatedly tells Ziyada to go home. When the latter refuses, the soldier demands to see his ID card. Ziyada tries to explain that he is a B’Tselem volunteer who is standing on his own land, but the soldier has none of it and calls what sounds like his superior to get an OK to confiscate the camera and arrest Ziyada.
The soldier orders one of the other soldiers to chamber a bullet, at which we hear a gun being cocked. The officer then orders Ziyada to sit, pushing him onto the ground. When Ziyada gets back up a few moments later, the officer has his gun pointed straight at him and once again shoves him down the ground. At this point the camera goes blurry, yet we are able to hear the soldier ordering his soldiers to “aim at him!” and “drop him.” Then the camera goes black.
Ziyada’s brother, Mahmoud, arrived on the scene to see soldiers sitting on Ahmad as he lay on the ground, his arms handcuffed. Mahmoud told B’Tselem that there were around five or six soldiers who pointed their weapons at him to prevent him from reaching his brother.
I wanted to see how my brother was doing after seeing him in this situation. The soldier who sat on him grabbed his head and pushed it to the ground. I noticed that he did this as I drew nearer. When I heard my brother scream I yelled that I would stay back. At this point there were two soldiers who were sitting on him, as if he were a dangerous criminal. I walked a few meters back.
There were a few residents including my brother. We had heard his screams after the soldiers sat on him. I tried to reach him but the soldier cocked his gun and pointed at my stomach, then he pointed it at my left knee and fired. I immediately fell to the ground. My other brother who was there caught me and brought me to a car that belonged to one of the residents. We quickly drove to Burin, where a Red Cross ambulance took me to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus.
Two things to note: the only two sentences the officer can say in Arabic are one of the few combat soldiers are taught: “jib al-hawiyeh” (“give your ID card”) and “ruh al-beit” (a wrong way of saying “go home,” which actually translates to “go the home”). The fact that the officer in question, who is tasked with interacting with an Arabic-speaking civilian population in the West Bank, knows a sentence and a half in Arabic is frankly embarrassing. He does not know Arabic because he did not learn it — because he was never asked to learn it. The mere notion that the vast majority of Israelis who carry out the day-to-day grind in the West Bank cannot communicate properly with those under their control speaks volumes about the respect (or lack thereof) that Israel’s military dictatorship shows its subjects.
Secondly, on Tuesday an Israeli court will hand down its sentence to Elor Azaria, the soldier who was convicted of killing Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif in Hebron early last year. In the end, we do not know what Azaria was thinking when he chambered a bullet in his weapon and shot an incapacitated, unarmed Palestinian man in the head. Surely, however, the person who committed this act could only have viewed the man lying prone on the pavement as less than human. The soldiers in the video exemplify the exact same type of contempt that was shown for the Ziyada brothers, even if the results were far less violent.
What happened to the Ziyada brothers is one incident out of thousands between Palestinians and the occupation every single day. These are stories that go unreported because there are simply too many to cover. If it’s not Palestinians being harassed by soldiers, then it is the government ordering the destruction of an entire Bedouin community, or security forces holding up a Palestinian politician at the checkpoint, or an Israeli court sentencing a cancer-stricken, epileptic boy to prison for throwing rocks. These are the tiny moments that congeal to make Israel’s military dictatorship — which is as arbitrary as it is brutal and unrepentant.