The incident took place on Friday, 3 December, when Israeli soldiers arrested Mahmud Abd al-Rahman Kamil at the village of Raba, southwest of Jenin, and then killed him in controversial circumstances.
The Israeli occupation army issued a statement saying Kamil was killed as he tried to flee from a house in which he had been hiding.
However, an investigation by B’Tselem at the site of the incident has revealed that the army lied about what happened. It concluded that the death was nothing short of an execution.
According to testimonies gathered by B’Tselem, Kamil was initially lightly injured but remained conscious when Israeli soldiers stormed the house where he was hiding.
The soldiers then reportedly forced two other Palestinians at gunpoint to bring Kamil to them.
Palestinian officials say murders
According to the B’Tselem report, the two men spoke with Kamil, who told them his name and asked for medical treatment. The pair handed the soldiers a pistol that had been in Kamil’s possession and carried him towards the soldiers.
The two men were then told to leave the area. About a minute later they heard the sound of gunfire.
The soldiers ordered one of the men to search Kamil to find his wallet. When he did, he saw that Kamil had been shot in the head and killed.
The man, identified as Muhammad al-Bazur, gave the following account of what he saw.
“The soldiers told me Sulaiman (another witness) to leave, and Sulaiman did. “I walked away with the soldiers’ guns aimed at me. I walked about 20-30 metres and then heard four or five shots. When I looked, I saw Kamil’s body jump up a bit … I went over to Kamil and saw that he was dead. He had been shot in the head, and blood was splattered on the ground.”
Reacting to the report, the Israeli army said “vague circumstances” surrounded the death of Kamil.
“For every murder exposed there are probably one hundred that remain unexposed”
Yaqub Shahin, Palestinian ministry of information official
According to army sources, some soldiers in the naval commando unit which killed Kamil, have been suspended from active duty pending the conclusion of an investigation into the incident.
An Israeli military spokesperson said that an initial investigation has determined that “troops made several mistakes in that incident”.
The latest episode comes against a background of several incidents in which Israeli soldiers have been accused of murdering Palestinians, civilians and activists.
In October, an Israeli soldier shot and killed a 13-year-old Palestinian girl in Rafah, southern Gaza, as she made her way to school.
After shooting the girl, the same soldier was shown returning to her body, some 25m from his bunker, and firing an additional 20 bullets into her body in order to verify that she was dead.
Yaalon says he believes racism
Palestinian sources told Aljazeera.net that the killing of Palestinian civilians by Israeli soldiers is a common phenomenon.
“For every murder exposed, there are probably a hundred that remain unexposed,” said Yaqub Shahin, from the Palestinian ministry of information.
He told Aljazeera.net that Israeli soldiers who are disciplined or suspended for killing Palestinians are punished not for committing the murderous act itself but for rather for having failed to cover it up properly.
On Monday, a high-ranking Israeli army commander told a Knesset sub-committee that one-fifth of Israeli army soldiers do not see Palestinian lives as equal to Jewish lives.
Yaalon said he would continue touring army bases to hear how commanders and soldiers understand orders and translate them into action.
B’Tselem says that of the more than 3000 Palestinians killed by army fire during the latest intifada, more than 1600 have been civilians.
However, the army has opened only 92 investigations, some of them ongoing, into soldiers’ actions. Only 27 soldiers have been indicted and four convicted of wrongful shootings.