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Eyewitnesses, video challenge army account of Nabi Saleh shooting

Activists carry injured French woman while the teargas canister burns in the background (photo: Omar Rahman)

In Nabi Saleh on Friday a French citizen–in the village for her first time–was struck in the back of the head by a high-velocity teargas canister fired by an Israeli soldier. The woman was part of a small group of activists that were walking down the main road out of the village, which was being closed off by a group of soldiers.

Although some youth from the village had been previously throwing stones from the hilltop above, the activists were unarmed and merely chanting slogans. When the group was approximately 25 to 30 meters away, the soldiers immediately began firing teargas canisters and rubber bullets directly at the people without warning. The group of around fourteen people turned to run and the girl was hit in the back of the head/neck area and dropped to the ground. A few of the others stopped to pick her up and a number of them were hit by rubber bullets.

A video shot by Bilal Tamimi, a resident of the village who was standing next to the soldiers, shows the entire incident. The teargas canister clearly ricochets off the girls head in mid-flight.


In response to the incident, Major Peter Lerner of the Israeli military began tweeting that “IDF soldiers on site” reported that she was hit from behind by Palestinian youths throwing stones. The video and eyewitnesses, including myself, can testify that this is false. There were no Palestinian youth standing behind the girl and she was struck after she turned to run from soldiers firing their weapons directly at unarmed activists. After witnesses and video refuted Major Lerner’s baseless assertion, he altered his story and tweeted that the Israeli military will investigate a teargas canister that ricocheted “off the ground.”

Palestinian activist holds blood-soaked kuffiyeh that the French woman was wearing when struck by canister (photo: Omar Rahman)

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    1. Anonymous

      LOL she got owned.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Excellent report Omar. Do you have any news on the French woman’s condition? She seems to be bleeding quite heavily in other pictures so one would hope that Israeli checkpoints allowed her passage to hospital… but then again, who knows…

      Having reported from Nabi Saleh myself I can confirm that IDF actively target journalists & civilains with rubber bullets and TG, usually at close range and often unprovoked – that’s if they even let them into the village after the 6am blockade has come into effect…

      Reply to Comment
    3. Michael W.

      Is the comment above by anonymous supposed to be a sick joke?

      Reply to Comment
    4. I was at a protest in nabi saleh a few weeks ago. It is sad what is going on there. You would think the IDF would be more careful after they killed a man this past Fall with a canister. My heart goes out to the French woman.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Danny

      Uh oh… a French national got hit in the face by a teargas canister… not good, not good… It’s not like some useless Arab nobody cares about got shot in the face at close range – this time it’s a white French woman. Major Lerner better put on his thinking cap in order to explain (le’hasbir) this one.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Jack, the young lady was fine, although using that term seems strange in this case. Activists from Nabi Saleh went to see her in hospital, but she had been discharged. I spoke to a friend of mine who is a doctor and we were discussing how it is remarkable that a person could be hit with something as large as a teargas canister in the neck, and it not hit the corroded artery (not to belittle her bleeding), and not to suffer spinal damage. It truly is incredible that this didn’t end up a tragic case, a la Mustafa Tamimi.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Palestinian

      Carotid artery * 😛 sorry but I had to

      Reply to Comment
    8. Elisabeth

      The IDF gut reponse is always the same: Immediatley issue a lie, preferably putting the blame on Palestinians. When caught lying, try a slightly different tack (‘ricoched off the ground”) and see if it sticks.

      To be caught out lying once or twice is already enough to leave an institution’s trustworthyness in shatters. In case of the IDF it is useless for them to even try picking up the pieces.

      Reply to Comment