SPECIAL REPORT: By Yumma Patel of Mondoweiss
A Palestinian man was shot and killed by an Israeli border police officer at point blank range on Friday evening in the northern occupied West Bank town of Huwwara in what is being described as an “execution” on social media.
The execution was captured on video and has circulated widely on social media.
The shooting occurred shortly before 5pm on Huwwara’s main road — a major throughway that connects dozens of villages with the city of Nablus to the north, and is used by both Palestinians and Israeli settlers.
Earlier this year, the main road of Huwwara was the site of a days-long Israeli settler rampage targeting Palestinians and their businesses with rocks, guns, axes, and other weapons.
Eyewitnesses to the shooting told Palestinian reporters that a scuffle ensued following an incident with an Israeli settler who was driving down the road.
“What happened is that there was a settler car passing by. They started harassing the young [Palestinian man], so he went towards the car and tried to open the door,” one of the witnesses told a Palestinian TV crew, referring to his SUV, which was allegedly shot at by the settler.
“So the settler cocked his weapon and shot him, and then shot at me in the jeep.”
Police officer ‘attacked man’
“Then the police officer came and started to attack him. Instead of moving the settler away, he kept attacking the guys, even though he was injured. The guy was trying to push the officer away and then the officer just started shooting him. He didn’t even give him a chance,” the witness continued.
The harrowing video capturing the Israeli border police officer shooting a Palestinian in Huwwara has circulated widely on social media and sparked outrage among Palestinians. Video published by Middle East Eye
The Border Police released an initial statement claiming the Palestinian man was shot after he attempted to stab a border police officer who was stationed in the area. The police then released another statement saying the Palestinian man “tried to enter a vehicle with an Israeli couple [inside].”
“While trying to break through the locked door, one of the occupants — an off-duty IDF officer — shot and apparently wounded the man with his handgun,” Times of Israel quoted the second statement as saying.
فيديو آخر يوثق لحظة إطلاق النار على شاب فلسطيني برصاص جندي إسرائيلي في حوارة جنوب نابلس pic.twitter.com/unbPRmrbJV
— AlQastal القسطل (@AlQastalps) December 2, 2022
It was after being shot by the settler that the Palestinian man then allegedly went on to attempt to stab the officer, according to the border policeman’s account.
The police also released a photo of the alleged knife, and claimed that one officer was “lightly wounded” in the alleged stabbing and was evacuated for medical treatment, while the second officer, the one who killed the Palestinian man, was also “lightly wounded”.
No Palestinian eyewitness accounts published in the media made any mention of a knife.
Around 20 minutes after 5 pm, the Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed the man had died from his wounds.
Though the MOH did not identify the man, Wafa News Agency identified him as 22-year-old Ammar Mefleh from the Nablus-area village of Osirin.
The moment the man was killed was captured in a harrowing video that is being circulated widely on social media and broadcast on Al Jazeera, amid an outcry from Palestinians, calling it an “execution.”
DO NOT LOOK AWAY FROM THIS VIDEO. EXECUTION FROM POINT BLANK RANGE. THIS IS THE ISRAEL THAT THE WORLD DOES NOT WANT YOU TO SEE. 🤬 pic.twitter.com/ePELGkU58O
— Mohammed El-Kurd (@m7mdkurd) December 2, 2022
The video shows him in a scuffle with an armed border police officer, whose assault rifle is strapped around his chest, along with a pistol in a holster around his waist.
In the midst of the scuffle, the border police officer can be seen attempting to drag the Palestinian man away from a group of other Palestinian men, who are trying to pull the man out of the officer’s grasp.
The officer puts the man in a headlock, and pulls him away from the two other men. The man then manages to free himself from the headlock, and pushes the officer away, while grabbing the officer’s assault rifle.
In a matter of seconds, as the Palestinian man throws the officer’s assault rifle to the ground, out of both of their grasps, the officer pulls out his pistol and begins firing at the man from point-blank range, who puts his hands up and curls away from the officer.
The officer fires four shots directly at the man, at point blank range, as shocked bystanders watch on, screaming for help. The officer then picks up his assault rifle, which was thrown some metres away on the ground.
A second video from a different angle shows the Palestinian man lying bloodied on the ground as the officer gets on his radio to call for backup.
Israel forces prevented medical aid
According to local reports, Israeli forces surrounded the man’s body for around 20 minutes, preventing Palestinian medics from providing him with first aid, before Israeli troops seized his body and took him to an undisclosed location.
The man in Huwwara is the ninth Palestinian killed by Israeli forces this week, bringing the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel in 2022 to 214.
The Israeli military and armed forces operating in the occupied West Bank have operated under open-fire regulations that translate into what rights groups call a shoot-to-kill policy, which they say has been given a green light by Israeli officials.
Earlier this year the army amended its open fire policy, making it even more lenient for soldiers, allowing for soldier to shoot — even kill — Palestinian stone-throwers with live ammunition, even if they are actively fleeing the scene.