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WATCH: IDF officer pulls loaded gun on Palestinian civilian

This week has seen a flurry of information about the Israeli army’s conduct in the West Bank. Many of my reports on this site  concern this upsetting topic. Just when you think that you can’t be surprised again by the violent impunity of Israeli soldiers, a new video emerges from the field, leaving you shocked.

In the above video, you will see an Israeli officer – not a regular soldier but an officer – pull his weapon on a Palestinian subject in the southern West Bank city of Beit Ummar. Shocking in itself, this is not an isolated violation by this particular officer. B’Tselem has released the following information about the incident.

On 18 June ’11, an army force came to a petrol station at the entrance to the West Bank village of Beit ‘Ummar, which lies north of Hebron, and arrested a youth from the village who works at the station, for allegedly throwing stones. His cousin, Rami Abu Mariah, who was there, intervened and spoke to the force commander to try and stop the arrest. The commander, a First Lieutenant, pushed him back, loaded his weapon and directly it straight into Abu Mariah’s face. Muhammad ‘Awwad, a B’Tselem volunteer who lives in the village, documented the incident on video.

In the videos below, you will see the pattern of his conduct and how it affects the young soldiers under his command. The video below was shot yesterday and depicts the officer drawing his weapon again while threatening others.

In the following video released by B’Tselem this afternoon, you will see the officer commanding his troops during one of the weekly unarmed demonstrations which take place in the same village of Beit Ummar. In this particular protest, soldiers under his command broke the hand of a Palestinian and, well, you can watch how the demonstration unfolded.

If this was another country, one would imagine that this officer would be held responsible for this violent and dangerous behavior. One would think that he would be given leave from his position or even (gasp) reprimanded for his actions. But this is Israel and, most likely, nothing will happen to this officer.

This violent and dangerous behavior is not limited to just a few bad apples, it is part of the system of Israel’s control over the Palestinian people. The culture of impunity that surrounds Israel’s repeated violations of Palestinian dignity is strong enough that officers have no problem performing their crimes in front of the cameras. If the settler MKs in the Knesset have their way, soon this Palestinian might not have the camera used to film these rights violations, and such crimes will simply go undocumented.

For the time being, social media platforms like YouTube allow even the passive international observer of the conflict a window into the behavior of “the most moral army in the world.” One can just imagine the similar such videos which would have emerged from the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa or the American civil rights movement in the southern United States, had YouTube existed during those struggles. It is for this reason, among others, that the Israeli government is moving so swiftly to limit the operations of NGOs like B’Tselem. The Knesset has already successfully stifled my ability, as a blogger and journalist, to write what I please. There are a multitude of ways to interpret this wave of laws, but perhaps the most straightforward is to understand that Israel is breaking under the pressure of its unsustainable occupation and the cracks are now visible.

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    1. Dahoud

      “If this was another country, one would imagine that this officer would be held responsible for this violent and dangerous behavior.”

      I feel sorry for you, that your delusions extend to the point where you clearly understand what they do to people who challenge Army officers in Syria and Iran and Yemen, but you are unable to effectively resolve the resulting tension between that reality and your beliefs.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Robi

      What he meant is: “if it was another contry pretending to be a democracy”. come on.

      Reply to Comment
    3. rose

      It doesn’t matter where in Yemen, Syria or whatever countries happen to these dangerous behaviour, those kind of soliders are insulting, violating to fellow human being can not be accepted. Don’t just see race, religion difference, see as they are also a human like you.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Leaving aside the question of the illegal occupation, any regime which allows its army to act thus is obviously illegitimate, be it Nazi Germany, apartheid South Africa, today’s Syria or the self styled “Jewish Democracy”, the State of Israel.

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    5. Louis

      IN the Name of the Occupation! And who does the knesset want to investigate?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Holden

      Interfering with an arrest. In every other country that I’ve heard of, someone interfering with an arrest stand to at least be arrested or be beaten or shot. Here you have foreigners physically intervening.

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    7. Rann B

      I actually know the officer. He spent 30 minutes screaming at me in the back of a jeep a few weeks ago. Lovely stuff.

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    8. Unbelievable that even this behaviour is condoned here by some. “the cracks” will be deep and bloody, I’am afraid. It’s like what major Avital Leibowitz (now lieutenant colonel, crime pays obviously) said in 2009: other countries are doing worse things, so what are you complaining about.

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    9. Ex Israeli

      This comment has been deleted

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    10. @Holden – interfering with arrest? In which country are foreign troops allowed the power of arrest? Not in the USA, nor in pretty much all of Europe, not in Australia, nor in UK (not even the intelligence has the power of arrest in UK, except as a citizen’s arrest, which is dodgy).

      So.. how do you explain that the IDF goons ganged up on an unarmed man who is in his own country and carrying out no threat and so with no probable cause, break his wrist and leave him almost gasping and sobbing in pain like a child? Is this some kind of legitimacy joke you are having, or are you living in Saudi Arabia perhaps?

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    11. Dam Morton

      Could you be any more deluded by your hatred of Israel, or less able to see the context of persistent trauma of suicide bombings and rockets into neighborhoods and general unwillingness of Israel’s Palestinian foes to live side be side in peace?

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    12. K SAL

      @DAM MORTON, get a grip – more Israelis die from peanut allergies than from rocket/suicide attacks! Joker!

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    13. directrob

      Dam Morton,
      So it is ok for this officer to point a loaded gun to the face of an unarmed civilian?

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    14. Lucy

      Apart from the distress at hearing and seeing a grown man abused, tortured, and arrested by occupying forces – I am further repelled by the justifications that some of the commenters are giving. The whining on about ‘Israel hating’ is nonsensical hysteria; the childish rhetoric about ‘rocket-firing/suicide bombing’ people is a desperate excuse for justifying the denial of what is known, KNOW to be wrong. Opinions that justify the daily abuse and torture of Palestinians by an occupying army are unacceptable. They echo the rhetoric of Hitler and his mad cronies. These films are just few of many easily available, alongside an increasing number of witness accounts and photographs, and are far from exceptional or rare events. As a child I was horrified at the treatment of the Jews by Hitler’s Germany; my family’s elders (many of whom fought against) taught our generation about such suffering as abhorrent; both school and media reinforced these views and overtly condemned racism, bullying, and fascism. So now the jackboot is on the Israeli footsoldiers and standing on the bones of Palestinians, and we can see it and draw parallels for ourselves. It is cruel, mad, ignorant, and perverse behaviour and there is no justification for that – whoever is committing it.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Michael T

      Why do Israeli Jews feel the need to go under Arabic sounding pseudonyms when belching out their unquestionable support for the killing and beating of Arabs?? It is so pathetic…

      Reply to Comment
    16. The image of the soldier pointing the gun at the guy would be an excellent contribution to World Press Photo. The victim’s body language says it all: behind the far too expensive equipment there is a coward without a mind of his own. I’m not afraid of you. You can never hurt me. Even if you kill me.

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    17. The fact that other countries also have violent, repressive regimes is no excuse for the Israeli army. Yes, things are also wrong in Syria and Iran. In the US, cops do things like this too and get away with them as well. But that is no excuse!

      But people saying “things are horrible in other countries as well” reeks of complacency! There is no excuse for ANY solider ANYWHRE doing this, period. But to have a system of institutionalized violence that systematically trains soldiers to do things like this and refuses to hold anyone accountable… that is a crime against humanity in and of itself.

      I want freedom for Iran, I want freedom for Syria, I want freedom for Yemen, I want fredom for Saudi Arabia. I also want freedom for terrorized black and brown communities in the US that are systematically victimized by police terror. BUT NONE OF THESE DEMANDS ARE IN ANY WAY INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE DEMAND FOR AN END TO ISRAELI APARTHEID.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Part of the reason the officer may be so angry is that he is beginning to realize that Palestinians don’t fear him simply because he is armed. When you make people’s lives a living hell of dehumanization, abuse and racist humiliation, they stop fearing your violence. The anger stems from the fear; the fear that even a gun can’t make destroy the will of the people he is supposed to manage.

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    19. Holden

      The West bank Arabs have written their own scenario for this. Those soldiers would not have to be there doing what they do if the West Bank Arabs would finally come to the table and hammer out the deal defining borders and water issues and so on. BUT THEY WON’T!
      This is because they cling to the idea that if they hold on long enough, that somehow the Jews will disappear. Also, the context behind these utubes isn’t very clear. Was this a protest against the construction of the separation wall that saves lives from suicide terror bombers? If so, then effectively the protesters are playing the same old passive/aggressive game with kaffieh-wearing camera wielding screaming foreigners intervening as much as they dare. Unlike Mexico, or Russia or China or Syria or Egypt the Israeli soldiers aren’t just shooting people out of hand. And Israeli politicians still have been trying to negotiate. Perhaps by September this will end, when the PA attempts to ramrod through an un-negotiated independence through the UN. Then Israel will simply seize whatever currently disputed territory it feels it needs and will simply draw its own line.

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    20. Anne O'Nimmus

      Joseph writes “but this is Israel” and i say, NO it is NOT! It is the land that is supposed to become Palestine. The land that Israel steals just a little bit more and a little bit more every damn day, and it is Israel that is the hostile entity who must crush and destroy the indigenous people. Israel isn’t scared of Palestinians, but it is scared of the recognition of Palestine in September. THen the world will have to recognize ISRAEL’s 44yr war against Palestinians.

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    21. @Holden “Was this a protest against the construction of the separation wall that saves lives from suicide terror bombers?”
      Spot on man. Even worse, they were all suicide bombers, disguised as peaceful protesters and construction workers. What would Israel be without people like you who can see through the many-splendored disguises of evil.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Philos

      Holden, clearly you are not keeping abreast of the news. The so-called “West Bank Arabs”, or Palestinians to the vast majority of Israelis and the rest of humanity, have “hammered out” with their Israeli counter-parts just about everything under the Sun except borders, water, Jerusalem and refugees. This is why Netenyahu’s request to start the negotiations from scratch were so unreasonable and extreme. We have an agreement in principle; what is needed is the signatures.

      On the case of the officer. His behavior isn’t exceptional. Although he personally seems a little unstable to me and isn’t exhibiting the kind of behavior I would want in a commander. But cocking the rifle and pointing it into someones face is something I have done too. Admittedly, at the time I felt I had just cause: 18-years old, first time in a hostile environment and the driver of the van refused my orders to stop his vehicle. I cocked my rifle and aimed straight at him and threatened, “Stop or I’ll shoot.” He stopped. Thanks to all the Gods. It turns out his house was right behind me and after getting slapped around a bit the check-point commander let him through laughing. “Imagine if you’d shot him 10 meters from his house.” His son was sitting in the passenger seat next to him. And then I had to return to standing at this shitty check-point until dark. That was in 2001 and the reality hasn’t changed. I don’t blame the soldiers most of the time (except the Magav; I loathe them) but I do blame their middle-class parents who should really know better than to keep on voting in intransigent Israeli governments. I blame the older generation who close their eyes to what they send their kids to do and the code of silence in the army that they support.

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    23. directrob

      Sorry Israeli soldiers do shoot out of hand. Not all of them, probably only a few of them, but kill without good reason they do and arrested they are not.

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    24. Holden

      Englebert, your sarcasm is childish here. Of course not all West bank Arabs are murderous.
      Most, like anyone else, would just prefer to get on with their lives and not be at war all the time.

      But The Arabs as a group are not exactly “live and let live.” Also we’re in the surreal scenario of irregular warfare.

      I can’t forget or ever forgive how normal, even celebrated it is for these people to send their children to throw rocks or cut the throats of sleeping children …

      But there’s enough of a serious problem that Israelis and Jews have to arm themselves and use those arms to survive. West Bank Arabs (I won’t call them Palestinians)want to shop in Israeli grocery stores, apply for and receive quality health and even emergency health treatment, attend universities and do business with Jews…but also politically seek to annihilate them at the same time. One of the worst for that is Omar Barghouti. His hypocrisy is stunning.

      Philos, I sympathize with your experience, and you did exactly the right thing in a difficult situation. But when one is a soldier or policeman legitimately defending one’s population. A clear armed order in a hostile confrontation to STOP! Means just that. And 1 warning is all they’re entitled to. And no more.

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    25. Yawn Boi


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    26. Holden

      And another thing….By now we more or less expect the maniacs running Gaza to fight their medieval “war to the death,” but their supposedly more enlightened counterparts managing Arab affairs in the West Bank are not just exploiting their own people (as they have so artfully done for many many years)but they’ve been playing Israelis, Jews and others as fools by encouraging these boycotts, sanctions, divestment campaigns to represent the interest of the West Bank Arabs. Really all it has effectively done is create ill will and show others how fundamentally dishonest and morally bankrupt this quest for “Palestinian Independence” has been. Which is not to say that there aren’t people of integrity among the Arabs who could. One that comes to mind is Mr. Salim Fayad. He and those around him have the integrity and the long vision to make a real future for their people. Sadly, he and what he represents have been losing ground to the more militant and murderous and devious schemers. This is a tragedy and a loss. It also is resulting in loss of financial support from the EU, US and other supporters, who don’t want to see all their money disappear down a rat hole. And where’s Arafat’s loving wife with all of the millions and millions that she acquired??

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    27. Justice


      The problem with you people, is that you never seek out the true facts. There is an investigation going on against that officer.

      As an aside: So what? The officer pulled a cocked and loaded gun on a protester. There is no way in hell he actually would have shot him. It was a scare tactic. It may be a little extreme, but the only reason he did it was to make the guy piss his pants in fear and run away. Guess it worked.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Surreal indeed, Holden. Charles Esche, director of the Van Abbemuseum, was called an “extremist” by a Dutch politician, for making it possible to exhibit a Picasso at Ramallah. Some people seem to have lost all sense of perspective. If you could start by applying the same moral code to Israel as you expect from the Palestinians, discussions would become more constructive.

      Reply to Comment
    29. Philos

      No Holden. You missed my point. I shouldn’t have been in that situation to begin with. The officer in that video shouldn’t be in that situation to begin with. Guarding, tyrannizing and ultimately abusing over a helpless people isn’t what any Israeli should be doing. When I was in school and the second Intifada started and I asked adults about Palestinians stories of abuse and murder I was told, “They’re liars. They’re all liars.”
      I believed the adults. My Zionism and my entire upbringing from my grandparents who fought in WW2 down was that one must be the good guy. Being the good guy meant defending the weak. Then I’m in the West Bank and all I see is abuse and yet more abuse. A surreal and insane situation no one should ever have to be put into. That Palestinian man had every right to drive up his driveway, this is where we (me and one other) had set-up a roadblock, to his house after a long days work. Avoiding narrowly getting shot in the face because of a failure to communicate isn’t a normative situation. The occupation of the Palestinians is corrupting Israel and Israelis!!!!! ARGHT!

      Reply to Comment
    30. directrob

      Philos, your story deserves a much more prominent place on this blog!

      Reply to Comment
    31. Yontan

      Calling BenIsrael. Calling BenIsrael. You are needed urgently to clarify that this is all a misunderstanding. That the IDF officer expressed his pure morality by not shooting, in the face, a Palestinian who dared to bare arms.

      Reply to Comment
    32. Holden

      @Englebert. What you imply insults the West Bank Arabs by making them appear as children who have no control over what happens to them. So you’re saying that murderers of the Fogel children and the lunatics who blew up the Sbarro Pizza Restaurant were helpless and had no control of themselves because of those terrible Jews usurping their land and breathing their air.

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    33. Deïr Yassin

      @ Holden
      What an amazing hypocrit you are !

      You wrote on July 20, 2:14 pm:
      “…how normal it is for THESE PEOPLE [that you refuse to call Palestinians] to send their children …to cut throats of sleeping children”.
      A deeply racist remark containing the essence of what ‘racism’ means – and not moderated – and now you have the chutzpah to tell Engelbert that he’s insulting the West Bank Arabs [the PALESTINIANS]. Don’t even try to pretend knowing what’s insulting to PALESTINIANS, you who deny our mere national aspirations.
      Try the same generalizations about Jews and the negation of Jews as a people, and we’ll see you come whining, wouldn’t we ?

      Reply to Comment
    34. @Holden I really don’t see how you can come to that conclusion. My point was that you (and many others) try to relate every random act of kindness to horrendous crimes. And this comes closely to the essence of racism as DY rightly noted. I see the Baruch Goldsteins and Kahanes as unfortunate products of historic dynamics, not as the essence of jewishness. Hope you can do the same for the Palestinians.

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    35. I

      The situation of young soldiers placed in *extremely* hostile and foreign environment does lead to extreme, fearful behavior.
      Naturally, the Palestinian despises the soldier, and who can blame him?
      But to cast this into a moral fairy tale story of an oppressed people against a brutal and evil oppressor is ridiculous, as it leaves out the context.
      The bottom line is that west bank, without Israel control, would be turned in 1-2 days to Hamastan #2, which is, in other words, a forward base for Iranian rockets.
      Unless Palestinians really show intent of becoming a sovereign and peaceful state (which Fayad is really trying), it seems the will of the street is destruction, for Israel, and the sooner the better.

      Also, K Sal really made me laugh, and as someone else responded:
      “so it is really ok to do suicide bombings and cold blooded murders”, right?
      Moreover, that goes both ways – more people Palestinians are getting killed due to bad driving than from the occupation….
      So does that make occupation right?

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    36. Holden

      this comment has been deleted. no hate talk- Last warning before banning.

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    37. Well Holden, what you need is what the philosopher Thomas Kuhn called a “Gestalt-switch”. There really is a dalmatian hidden somewhere among the dots. Try and find it. Good luck.

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    38. Deïr Yassin


      I would like to draw your attention to ‘Holden’ and his racist and insulting crap. I think I’ve been edited for far less than that.

      I do not particularly like Suha Arafat – to state it nicely – but I would like to oppose his disgusting expression of “Arafat’s whore” in his comment July 21 2:00. I also dislike the ‘hopelessly corrupted Arabs’ and the ‘parents who sent their children to cut throats’ in a former comment on July 20, 2:14 pm
      That is RACISM, pure and simply.

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    39. weinstein henry

      1. Directrob is right: Philos’ WORDS deserve all our attention.
      2. YouTube videos like these have to be put in perspective, just like any ‘designed with a purpose’ visual information (same story with Hasbara videos).
      3. I’m fed-up with the WATCH commandment: we are not stupid cows watching without thinking, don’t treat us like Hasbara does, it’s counter-productive.

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    40. Holden

      This comment has been deleted

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    41. Philos

      Well, Holden will never change his views. My Hebrew teacher told me a long time ago that arguing with a Rightist these days is like arguing with a rabbi that there is no God. But if some of you are interested in stories of soldiers that served in the Occupied Territories then have a look at Breaking the Silence. I am not in the group but I have spoken to some people from there. They are a nice and dedicated group. My story is far from exceptional and all of Israeli society must understand that they too bear the moral responsibility over the conduct of this officer as well as my conduct in my days. Although I was a drop of water in a sea of sh*t…

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