On Thursday, Israeli human rights group B’tselem released a video of an Israeli soldier shooting Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif in the head, as he was laying wounded and motionless on the ground in Hebron.
At the scene, a second Palestinian, Ramziz Aziz al-Qasrawi, quickly dies from a gunshot wound, having been offered no medical care.
Following the extrajudicial executions, the soldier who shot Sharif shakes hands with Hebron settler and right-wing Jewish nationalist Baruch Marzel as Sharif’s body is removed from the scene.
Haaretz described the interaction between the two:
The soldier is then seen approaching a rescue worker and briefly speaking with him. Marzel approaches the two, and is seen shaking hands with the soldier who shot Sharif, who in turn pats him on the arm. In other photos taken by foreign press agencies, the soldier is seen smiling alongside Marzel.
Palestinian and Israeli news outlets have identified Marzel as an Israeli far-right extremist, activist, and ultra-nationalist. Indeed, Marzel, a longtime Hebron settler, is a ardent follower of Meir Kahane, who advocated for the forced transfer of Palestinians from all of “Israel,” along with all others who question uncompromised Israeli sovereignty over the occupied territories. Kahane believed in using violence to defend and forward this agenda; his followers, including Marzel (and now the soldier in question), are known to violently attack Palestinians in hopes of initiating the transfer process themselves.
Marzel’s presence at the site of the extrajudicial killings is representative of the affect radical Israeli settlers have in Palestinian areas: concern over their bodies elicits the presence of Israeli state forces. As Minister of Agriculture Ariel Sharon once said, it would be impossible to establish settlements in isolated areas of the West Bank without “people who were willing to live on those barren hills and ridges amidst a hostile local population.”
However, Marzel and his community could not live in Hebron in such violent opposition to the Palestinian population without the strong support of the Israeli government. Israeli support for Hebron settlers today looks like approximately 4,000 Israeli soldiers instituting a brutal military regime on over 200,000 Palestinians to protect around 500 settlers in the heart of Hebron. Israel’s Ministry of Housing also continues to fund settlement expansion in Hebron’s downtown.
Israel goes through the trouble of protecting these provocative settlers because their messianic vision of establishing a Jewish Hebron and “Greater Israel” aligns with the Israeli government’s somewhat rather goal: laying claim to the occupied territories and its resources. After all, Israel’s support for Hebron settlers began immediately after it occupied the city in 1967. Settlers moving to Hebron were seen by Israel as a way to prevent Palestinian expansion into areas coveted by Israel for future annexation and resource exploitation.
In this sense, Marzel’s presence at the site of Thursday’s extrajudicial killing and his extension of his hand to a murderer is no coincidence; Israel capitalizes on his presence, and the presence of other settlers, to expand the Israeli occupation into Palestinian territory. In turn, they protect and empower Marzel to lord over a population he aims to have violently transferred. Nevertheless, despite Marzel’s deplorable participation in and celebration of this system, it is the Israeli government alone that has the resources and power to maintain the occupation of Palestine.
Since the popular uprising began in October 2015, Israeli forces have killed at least 61 Palestinians in Hebron alone, and 206 Palestinians overall. Palestinians have killed approximately 29 Israelis over the same period.
Original article, with hyperlinks, at AIC official.