On 3 Feb. 2013, the office of the military advocate for operational matters notified B’Tselem that it had instructed the military police to investigate the allegations.
A B’Tselem investigation indicates that on Monday morning, 19 November 2012, at about 7:30 AM, students from the Tuqu’ boys’ high school were protesting the Pillar of Defense campaign in the Gaza Strip. The school is located near Route 356, which links Bethlehem and Hebron, and some of the students were throwing stones at the road. Consequently, an Israeli military force of 11 soldiers arrived on the scene in two vehicles.
A video filmed by a photographer for the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency shows what happened next. The video and other testimony gathered by B’Tselem reveal that several students were throwing stones at the soldiers, who responded with tear gas grenades and then began leaving the area. Two of the soldiers were standing at some distance from the others, right by Route 356. At that point, one of the two soldiers opened fire, firing two live rounds at the students, even though none of the soldiers was in any danger at the time and the two soldiers had the advantage of significantly higher ground. The video shows that, after the shots were fired, the other soldier ran over to the shooter and drew him away from the scene.
Video footage of the incident, filmed by Ma'an cameraman
Muhammad al-Badan, 17, was wounded in the abdomen. He was taken to al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron where he was diagnosed with internal injuries and damaged pelvic bones. His father related that Muhammad was hospitalized for about a month and then recently transferred to a rehabilitation facility in the Palestinian village of Beit Jala. Al-Badan now uses crutches and a wheelchair. He requires assistance to eat and cannot eat solids.
On 1 January 2013, while at home on leave from the rehabilitation facility, al-Badan was summoned for interrogation by the Israel Police for allegedly throwing stones during the incident in which he was injured. The interrogation violated his rights, as he was not allowed to have an adult present on his behalf during questioning, even though his grandfather had accompanied him to the police station.
Muhammad al-Badan at his home. Photo: Suha Zeid, B'Tselem, 3 Jan. 2013
According to the Israeli military’s open-fire regulations and official statements by military officials, the use of live fire is prohibited during law enforcement activities such as the dispersal of demonstrations in the West Bank, with the exception of firing in the air under certain circumstances. The military’s standing orders state explicitly that live ammunition is not to be used against stone-throwers. The regulations permit the detention of stone-throwers only when their actions pose an immediate danger to the physical well-being of a soldier or another individual. Only when there is real, mortal danger are soldiers permitted to fire at an assailant’s body to resolve the threat.
Nonetheless, security forces sometimes do use live fire during Palestinian demonstrations, especially when stone-throwing is involved. In the last year, two Palestinians were killed when live ammunition was fired at unarmed stone-throwers. B’Tselem has documented the use of live fire under circumstances that cannot be described as posing mortal danger to the soldiers.
It should be noted that B’Tselem does not have the complete video footage of the incident in its possession. The footage that we received has been edited by Ma’an News Agency. However, the clip shown here, which includes the actual firing, is a continuous, unedited segment.
B’Tselem has contacted the Military Advocate General Corps to demand that it order a criminal investigation into the circumstances of the use of live ammunition in this incident.