Israeli forces on Monday attacked a family of Palestinians who were harvesting wheat on their farmland near al-Mughayyir village east of Jerusalem. The Israeli army was apparently called in by Israeli settlers who had earlier tried to harass the Palestinian family.
Initially, the army issued a statement that two Palestinians tried to attack them with sickles (farming instruments used to harvest wheat). But eyewitness accounts paint a far different picture of what happened – and draw into question other statements by the Israeli military in which they claim they shot Palestinians ‘in self-defense’.
Israeli settlers have become emboldened in their assaults on Palestinians in recent weeks, with the Israeli administration of Binyamin Netanyahu allowing the violent attacks and even encouraging them. In this instance, the Israeli settlers, who had established a new colony nearby several days ago, came onto the Palestinian farmland to taunt and harass the family that was working on their farmland.
When they could not provoke a response from the Palestinians, they called in the army, who arrived on the scene and promptly shot two members of the farming family.
According to a report by the Israeli Ha’aretz newspaper, one of the men who was shot, identified as Murad, spoke to their reporters and told them, [the Israeli soldiers “started approaching us while telling us to sit down immediately. And then they shot three bullets at my brother Imadâs left leg. I went a little nearer and asked them to stop shooting him, and then they shot me in the stomach.”
Following the statement by the Israeli military, most Israeli military dutifully reported the statement as fact, with the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahranoth writing, “IDF troops fired on two Palestinians brandishing sickles who attempted to stab them as the soldiers carried out operational activity in the West Bank, near Ramallah. No Israeli soldiers were hurt in the attack and the two assailants managed to flee despite being hit by bullets.”
This was an obviously false account of the incident, but was reported by Yedioth Ahranoth and other outlets as if it were fact. Yedioth Ahranoth also claimed that this incident took place during a “riot by Palestinian youth”, another obvious falsehood, since the reality was that a Palestinian family was harvesting their wheat when they were antagonized by paramilitary colonial Israeli settlers, then shot by armed Israeli soldiers.
Only Ha’aretz took time to actually interview eyewitnesses and find out the truth of what happened – leading the army to retract its initial false statement.