Settler gets 16 months in jail for shooting and paralyzing Palestinian

22 Dec 2008

In September 2007, Ehud Gadot, a resident of the Yitav settlement, fired at Palestinians who were grazing their flocks in the area of ‘Ein al-Beida, in the northeast West Bank, hitting one of them, leaving him paralyzed. In a plea-bargain, Gadot was convicted for the offense of “causing grievous bodily injury in aggravated circumstances.” On 14 December 2008, the court sentenced him to imprisonment for sixteen months.

On 24 September 2007, Gadot and his brothers left the Shdemot Mehola settlement and approached Palestinians who were grazing their cows in the area. Two of the settlers threw stones at the cows, and Gadot fired at the Palestinians. One of the bullets passed through the shoulder of Muhammad Abu Mutawe'a, 22, and became embedded in his spine, leaving his lower extremities paralyzed . Seeing that the Palestinian was injured, Gadot and his brother ran away, and didn't call for help.

Saleh Daraghmeh, Muhammad's uncle, who witnessed the shooting, related to B'Tselem what happened that morning:

Jamal went over to the settlers and asked why they were throwing stones at the cows. I shouted to Jamal to come back. . . He ran and then one of them fired his pistol at Jamal's legs.. .The settlers passed by me. One of them was holding a pistol. Muhammad asked him what we had done, and then the settler shot him. I saw Muhammad fall slowly from the horse onto his back. I shouted at the settler. . . He went over to Muhammad, kicked him, and told him to get up. Muhammad didn't move. The settler turned him over and saw the blood, and immediately both settlers started running towards the settlement, leaving Muhammad there to continue bleeding. . . .

Muhammad Abu-Mutawe'a in Jenin hospital. Photo: ‘Atef Abu a-Rub Muhammad Abu-Mutawe'a in Jenin hospital. Photo: ‘Atef Abu a-Rub

In her verdict, Judge Nechama Munitz said that a significant penalty must be imposed, one that “will send a clear message that society will not tolerate acts of this kind.” She explained, however, that she did not accept the prosecution's call for a harsher punishment: “his [the defendant's] rehabilitation and future must play an important and central role in weighing the penalty,” in that Gadot is an “extremely positive defendant” and that the act “does not conform to his way of life.” In making this determination, the judge relied on a probation officer‘s report stating that his acts “were not characteristic of his general behavior.”

While the probation officer noted that this was not an isolated incident, he added that “such incidents in the past ended with the removal of approaching persons [Palestinians] by shouts and by giving chase.” Indeed, B'Tselem has documented in recent years dozens of cases in which settlers prevented Palestinians from accessing land near settlements. In some cases, settlers place physical obstructions and in other cases they expel Palestinians time and again from the land, sometimes using violence. The rings of land thus created around settlements are intended, among other things, to facilitate settlement expansion. The law-enforcement authorities have not taken the necessary action to end this phenomenon. Furthermore, in some cases, security forces have taken part in expelling Palestinians from such lands.

In September, B'Tselem published the details of this case, along with many others, in its report Access Denied.