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.