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When Israeli soldiers 'provoke and react,' Palestinians die

Despite Netanyahu’s claims of ‘self-defense,’ testimony by Israeli soldiers suggests that mounting Palestinian casualties are the result of intentionally provocative tactics.

Text by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler
Photos by: Ahmad Al-Bazz and Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

Relatives grieve over the body of 26-year-old Ahmed Fahmawi, who was killed by Israeli soldiers at Al Ein Refugee Camp during a night raid, Nablus, West Bank, June 22, 2014. According to Palestinian medical sources, Israeli soldiers killed Fahmawi near his home after they raided the refugee camp in search of three Israeli settlers. (Activestills.org)

Relatives grieve over the body of 26-year-old Ahmed Fahmawi, who was killed by Israeli soldiers at Al Ein Refugee Camp during a night raid, Nablus, West Bank, June 22, 2014. According to Palestinian medical sources, Israeli soldiers killed Fahmawi near his home after they raided the refugee camp in search of three Israeli settlers. (Activestills.org)

In response to the mounting numbers of Palestinian deaths, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered the excuse that Israeli military action in the West Bank “entails a certain friction with the civilian population,” and that “we have no intention of deliberately harming anyone but our forces are acting as necessary for self-defense and from time to time there are victims or casualties on the Palestinian side as a result of the self-defense actions of our soldiers.”

At the time of this posting, six Palestinians have been killed in the massive military operation that was launched after the kidnapping of three Israeli youth near a West Bank settlement. But attempts to cast the rising number of unarmed Palestinian casualties as “self-defense” rings hollow when taking into account the testimony of former Israeli soldiers collected by Breaking the Silence. In an event that took place just days before “Operation Brother’s Keeper” was launched, the public testimony of former soldiers recounted routine tactics used by the Israeli military. The group’s founder, Yehuda Shaul, is emphatic that, “the testimonies we have collected are not exceptional,” but reflect standard operating procedure.

Israeli soldiers take part in a search operation for three Israeli teenagers believed kidnapped by Palestinian militants, on June 18, 2014, in the West Bank town of Halhul. Israel stepped up efforts to crush Hamas in the West Bank as the hunt for three Israeli teenagers went on. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers take part in a search operation for three Israeli teenagers believed kidnapped by Palestinian militants, on June 18, 2014, in the West Bank town of Halhul. Israel stepped up efforts to crush Hamas in the West Bank as the hunt for three Israeli teenagers went on. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

One sergeant testifies that as recently as 2014 his unit used a tactic known as “Provocation and reaction,” which he describes as, “the act of entering a village, making a lot of noise, waiting for the stones to be thrown at you and then you arrest them, saying: ‘There, they’re throwing stones.'”

Another soldiers, Sergeant Avner Gvaryahu, testifies that:

What we’d do was go out night after night, drawing fire, go into alleys that we knew were dangerous. There were arrests, there were all kinds of arrests. But the high point of the night was drawing fire, creating a situation where they fired at us. It’s a situation, totally insane, you’re in it, it’s hard to explain. You’re looking through the binoculars and searching for someone to kill. That’s what you want to do. And you want to kill him. But do you want to kill him? But that’s your job.

Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian youth during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron, after the Israeli army raided the city in the last days, June 16, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian youth during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron, after the Israeli army raided the city in the last days, June 16, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

As noted by a recent +972 article by Yael Marom, an ultra-Orthodox news outlet quotes an officer saying that the same thing is happening during current operations:

[T]he officer stated that the army is intentionally trying to agitate the population in order to provoke stone throwers, which will allow Israeli snipers to kill them. “There was a group of snipers on the roof – an entire unit that moves on the outskirts of Jenin in order to make noise and raise tensions,” he said. “This was actually the true goal: to provoke them into causing disorder, and then put down those causing the disorder.”

Netanyahu claims he will soon reveal proof that Hamas is behind the abduction of the three Israeli youth. But regardless of any group’s culpability, it is clear that many Palestinians with no connection to the kidnapping are being collectively punished, and in some cases killed, as a result of intentionally provocative military actions.

“Operation Brother’s Keeper” borrows a well-known biblical phrase coined by Cain, used while attempting to dodge responsibility for the murder of his brother Abel. Perhaps borrowing the words of an obfuscating killer is more appropriate than the Israeli military’s PR officers intended.

More on the kidnappings:
IDF kills two Palestinians far from center of search operation
This is what a military operation in Hebron looks like
Is Israel trying to force a third intifada?

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    COMMENTS

    1. You have to laugh at what these 972mag ideologues write. The rude Israelis make so much noise that Palestinians are provoked to pick up guns, grenades, improvised explosive devices, bombs,Molotov cocktails, cement slabs, rocks and bricks which just happened to have been procured or provided in advance. Some even magically are stocked on the roofs of homes and businesses for easy access.

      Imagine that Israeli soldiers attempt to draw out the fire of Palestinian terrorists and arrest or shoot them. Wow, I guess American and Canadian soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan were not trying to engage the enemy but were just out there for a stroll in the countryside.

      If Palestinians did not riot and attempt to harm the IDF in the prosecution of their mission against Hamas, no Palestinian would come to harm. Israel has a right of self defense and it is exercising it.

      Reply to Comment
      • shachalnur

        The razzia’s have been going on for 10 days now.

        Can’t wait untill Bibi will present “unequivocal proof” Hamas is responsable for the 3 missing young men.

        But he’s not even presenting proof there was a kidnapping at all.

        Oh,Israel just bombed Syria as well.

        Looks like everything is under control,in your head,in your soup.

        Do you get paid overtime?

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          Since you are pretty much no-one, I suppose Bibi does not own you shit.

          Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            But,but….he promised.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Promised. So ye shall sit quietly and wait until fulfilment of the promise.

            Reply to Comment
          • Reza Lustig

            When? The 12th of Nevertember?

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            None of your business.

            Reply to Comment
    2. IlonJ

      No buts. But you can butt out Shachalnur.

      Reply to Comment
      • shachalnur

        Do you have a butt fixation?

        Reply to Comment
    3. Bar

      Let’s see if I understand. In the USA, some angry person with a couple of guns goes off and manages to kill several to a couple of dozen people in a single attack that usually lasts less than an hour.

      In Brooklyn, the cops attending an Occupy protest arrested 700 people in one afternoon.

      However, the evil IDF, which seeks to provoke the Palestinians so it can then punish them by killing them or arresting them, has only managed to arrest 400 Palestinians in 10 days of having thousands of soldiers scouting for the kidnapped teenagers and have killed 6 people.

      I can only imagine this author’s rage and series of aggrieved essays on the single day last year on which the Egyptians killed 500 protesters. Whoa, I bet he called for a boycott right there and then.

      Reply to Comment
      • Reza Lustig

        http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Not_as_bad_as

        I’ve got no more patience for your BS, so I’ll just post this link one more time. It describes your line of reasoning to a tee.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          I know, why would anybody want to use benchmarks to compare anything if they destroy your argument?

          Reply to Comment
          • Reza Lustig

            You’ve destroyed no argument. You’ve fallen into the logical fallacy I linked to: justifying doing something intrinsically wrong by pointing to “worse” stuff elsewhere, and expecting that to make it all better.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            Truly, you’ve proven nothing. There is a military operation going on for very good reason. There is nothing wrong with the manner in which the operation is being handled, much less its legality. So then, all we are left with are the claims that the operation and its effects are improper or illegal and, as I have pointed out and will continue to point out, a cursory glance at multiple other similar situations around the globe puts that argument to rest.

            Swallow hard, Reza, Wikipedia won’t save you. You have no argument.

            Reply to Comment