(Updated below with a response from the Israeli military spokesperson’s office.)
A video released Wednesday onto several social media accounts and published by several news outlets shows Israeli plainclothes undercover officers apparently shooting an unarmed Palestinian youth in the leg at point blank range, while other undercover officers hold him down.
The shooting and beating took place during clashes in between Ramallah and the Beit El settlement, which abuts the de facto Palestinian capital and hosts the army’s regional headquarters base.
Several videos of the same event emerged on Wednesday, showing the Israeli plainclothes troops wearing keffiyehs wrapped around their faces, infiltrating the West Bank demonstration and then either shooting toward demonstrators at close range with handguns, or assaulting them and dragging them away to military vehicles.
Reuters bureau chief Luke Baker confirmed via a tweet that he had viewed footage of Israeli undercover officers throwing stones at soldiers and encouraging the Palestinian youth around them to do the same.
— Luke Baker (@LukeReuters) October 7, 2015
AFP filmed a clip of the incident shown above from a different angle. (AFP footage cannot be embedded but you can watch the clip on YouTube, the shooting takes place at at around the 0:36 second mark.) This clip looks entirely unedited (the first version zooms in to show the gun and shot) and appears to corroborate the first video.
In 2012 Haaretz newspaper reported (Hebrew link) that the commanding officer of an undercover unit confirmed it was their practice to have plainclothes agents infiltrate Palestinian demonstrations and throw stones in the direction of soldiers while encouraging the Palestinian youth to follow suit, and then arrest them for throwing stones.
Roughly 100 Palestinians were wounded across the West Bank on Wednesday, according to Palestinian news agency Ma’an, including 10 wounded by live ammunition and 89 by rubber-coated steel bullets.
Clashes have taken place on a daily basis in East Jerusalem and across the West Bank for nearly a week following tensions surrounding Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and an increasingly frequent and ongoing series of attacks by Palestinian individuals against Israeli civilians, leaving four Israelis dead. There were five such attacks on Wednesday, leaving a number of Israelis wounded.
Protests have spread from East Jerusalem and the West Bank to Palestinian-majority and mixed Jewish-Arab cities inside Israel proper in recent days, with stone throwing and heavy handed and often violent responses from police.
In a separate incident caught on video by CCTV, Israeli police chased an unarmed boy into a grocery store in East Jerusalem, wrecking part of the store and assaulting the owner in the process. The final frames of the clip show the owner limping from his injuries just after the Israeli security forces leave his store, dragging the boy they were chasing.
#القدس | قبل قليل – جنود الإحتلال إقتحموا دكان “العمدة” في حي الثوري جنوب المسجد #الأقصى، واعتدوا على كل المتواجدين في المحل شباب وأطفال.
Posted by Sawt El Ghad on Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Update (October 8, 5 p.m.):
The Israeli army spokesperson’s office sent the following response to our request that it explain the soldiers’ actions:
In events of this type, in which soldiers operate in life threatening situations and in which a Palestinian mob is inflamed, special methods of operation are used. In this incident a violent confrontation broke out between the undercover troops and the central inciter, during which a bullet was fired into his leg. The [Israeli army] force was attacked with a barrage of stones that endangered it and was therefore forced to evacuate the area as quickly as possible. It was an accurate shot that disabled the central suspect who fought back even after the soldiers attempted to arrest him. The suspect was lightly wounded and was treated by soldiers.
The spokesperson did not respond to our inquiry regarding whether or not the soldiers shown in the video would face criminal charges.