The B’Tselem human rights NGO on Sunday released video of an incident in which 17-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Hani al-Kasbah was shot dead by an IDF brigade commander, Colonel Yisrael Shomer.
The video shows al-Kasbah fleeing after throwing a rock at the commander’s jeep. Two soldiers exited the jeep at this point and shot al-Kasbah as his back was to them. Al-Kasbah cannot be seen being hit by the bullet.
|Security camera footage|
The incident, during which the jeep’s windshield was broken, occurred on July 3 while the commander and his troops traveled through Al-Ram, near Ramallah. The IDF said that the officer felt his life was in danger after rocks and boulders were thrown and opened fire according to procedure.
Al-Kasbah was evacuated to a Ramallah hospital, where he died. Military police opened an investigation into the death as per IDF protocol regarding incidents in which Palestinians are killed. A preliminary investigation showed that a military vehicle is permitted to use the road even if it is not armored, like the jeep damaged in the incident.
The damaged jeep and Colonel Shalom (Photo: IDF Spokesman)
Major General Roni Numa , head of the IDF Central Command, backed the officer and said that a preliminary probe showed he acted as was expected of him. “I completely support the commander and his performance during the incident in which he faced a real threat to his life,” he said.
However, the video captured by a security camera raises the possibility that the death could have been averted.
It shows al-Kasbah standing at the side of the road flanked by two other people. When the jeep arrives, he is seen running towards it and throwing a rock from very close range, shattering the windshield.
Mohammed Hani al-Kasbah
The jeep then stops, after which al-Kasbah runs away with his back to the vehicle. Soldiers rapidly exit the vehicle, one of whom chases al-Kasbah while the other stops and then also breaks into a run. The continuation of the chase and the gunfire are not seen, as they occurred out of the camera frame.
Palestinian witnesses who cooperated with the B’Tselem investigation said the officer shot the Palestinian at a distance of ten meters (around 33 feet). According to the witnesses, the troops left the scene after wounding the teenager.
The video also disproves the story promoted by the Palestinians on the day of the incident, according to which the al-Kasbah was shot while climbing the border fence.
B’Tselem has provided a copy of the video to military police. The organization said that the IDF’s claim that the jeep passengers’ lives were at risk is unreasonable.
“No one disputes that the rock hitting the jeep’s windshield and breaking it endangered its passengers at the time, but the shooting of al-Kasbah in the back occurred after he was fleeing the site and not when there was an immediate danger to life,” said B’Tselem.