An investigation, released by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, revealed that Israeli forces destroyed evidence related to the murder of Abdel Fattah, who was executed by extremist settlers, earlier this month, in the northern occupied West Bank, and that this propagated a misleading version of events.
Israeli troops claimed, at the time, that 23-year-old Muhammad Abdel Fattah was shot dead on 3 April, after he tried to stab an Israeli settler in a car, who then shot him in self-defense.
However, witnesses told Bâ€™Tselem that Abdel Fattah had, in fact, been throwing stones at Israeli settlersâ€™ cars driving near the Palestinian village of Huwwara, in the Nablus district. A settler pulled over, after a stone hit his vehicle, and fired two shots at Abdel Fattah, while still in his car and before getting out and firing “several more shots” as the Palestinian crouched behind movable waste containers.
The settler who shot Abdel Fattah was identified, by the Israeli daily Haaretz, as Joshua Sherman, a resident of the illegal Israel settlement of Elon Moreh and an activist on behalf of the Union of the Right-Wing Parties.
“A truck driving along the road also stopped, the driver got out, came over to stand next to Sherman, and the two men fired several more shots at Abdel Fattah, who was lying wounded on the ground,â€ť Bâ€™Tselem’s statement added.
‘Ensure that the truth never comes to light’
The Palestinian, a resident of the village of Khirbet Qeis and a father of one, reportedly succumbed to his wounds in an Israeli hospital.
Another Palestinian, working in a nearby shop, was also reportedly hit by a bullet to the abdomen, Bâ€™Tselem said.
“Minutes after the two settlers opened fire, Israeli military jeeps arrived on the scene and soldiers used stun grenades to disperse the crowd that had begun to gather,” the NGO wrote.
“Immediately after that, about eight soldiers went into two nearby shops to check their security cameras.”
According to witnesses, the soldiers filmed the security camera footage on their mobile phones, before erasing the video from the shop DVRs.
B’Tselem denounced the actions of the army, arguing that the fact that the settlers were not detained, and that footage of the killing was destroyed, reflected efforts “to ensure that the truth never comes to light and the shooters would not face any charges or be held accountable in any way.”
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 37 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces – not including Israeli civilians – since the beginning of the year.
Three Israelis have been killed by Palestinians, during the same time frame.
Palestinians regularly accuse Israeli forces of smearing slain Palestinians by falsely claiming they constituted a deadly threat when they were killed.
(photo: Armed settlers in Hebron, International Solidarity Movement)
Archive IMEMC post 02/16/16:Â
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.