21 July '08: Following exposure by B'Tselem, Military Police investigate shooting of bound Palestinian

Published: 
21 Jul 2008

Yesterday (20 July), B'Tselem published footage it received of a soldier firing a rubber-coated steel bullet, from extremely short range, at a Palestinian detainee who was cuffed and blindfolded. The act occurred about two weeks ago in the presence of several security forces, among them the battalion commander, a lieutenant colonel, who held the Palestinian's arm while the soldier fired.

According to press reports, the Military Police have opened an investigation and arrested the soldier who fired the shot. Apparently, until the video was aired, the army did not conduct a Military Police investigation, and settled for an operational debriefing. According to the reports, the debriefing reached the desk of the Judea and Samaria (West Bank) Division Commander, who failed to inform the Military Police or the Judge Advocate General's Office, or to take any measures against the soldier or the battalion commander. Residents of Ni'lin stated that, the day after the incident, they saw the soldier still serving in his unit.

When questioned by investigators, the soldier stated, according to press reports, that the battalion commander had ordered him to shoot the detainee. The commander, however, admitted only that he had ordered the soldiers “to frighten” the bound Palestinian.


Video footage from the incident.

The incident took place on 7 July, in Ni'lin, a village in the West Bank. A Palestinian demonstrator, Ashraf Abu-Rahma, 27, was stopped by soldiers, who cuffed and blindfolded him for about thirty minutes, during which time, according to Abu-Rahma, they beat him. Afterwards, a group of soldiers and border policemen led him to an army jeep. The footage shows a soldier aim his weapon at the detainee's legs, from about 1.5 meters away, and fire a rubber-coated steel bullet at him. Abu-Rahma stated that the bullet hit his left toe and that he received treatment from an army medic and was then released by the soldiers.

A young Palestinian girl from Ni'lin filmed the incident from her house in the village. B'Tselem received the tape yesterday and forwarded a copy to the Military Police Investigation Unit commander, with a demand that an immediate Military Police investigation be opened, if one hadn't already been initiated, and that the soldier be brought to justice. B'Tselem also demanded an investigation into the involvement of the battalion commander, who held the detainee. B'Tselem stressed that members of the security forces are obligated to report unlawful acts and that a  senior officer's failure to do so is particularly grave.