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B'Tselem: Israeli settlers execute Palestinian, military covers up their deed

April 17, 2019 10:39 A.M. (Updated: April 22, 2019 12:23 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem issued an investigation report earlier this week regarding a 23-year-old Palestinian, who was shot dead by an Israeli settler, at the Huwwara checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus for allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack.

However, B’Tselem’s investigation has found that in the incident reported by the media as an attempted stabbing at Huwwara on April 3rd 2019, Muhammad Abed al-Fattah, 23, had been throwing rocks at Israeli vehicles driving along the road and was then shot by an Israeli settler who pulled over.

As al-Fattah was laying wounded on the ground, the settler, along with another settler who also pulled over, shot him again, killing him, B’Tselem confirmed.

B’Tselem pointed out that soldiers erased video footage of the incident.

Here follows the full report by B’Tselem:

“B'Tselem's investigation of the incident found that at 8:30 A.M. that morning, Muhammad 'Abd al-Fattah – a 23-year-old Palestinian from Khirbet Qeis, Salfit District, who was married and had a daughter – crossed the road. He stopped by a dumpster across from the village square in the nearby village of Beita and started throwing stones at cars bearing Israeli license plates that were heading from the direction of Huwarah towards the village of Za’tarah and Tapuah Junction. ‘Abd al-Fattah threw stones at two passing cars and then threw a third stone, which hit a car. The driver, an Israeli named Yehoshua Sherman, pulled over. Then two gunshots were heard, apparently fired from inside the vehicle. The driver then got out of the car.

At that point, ‘Abd al-Fattah was crouching among the dumpsters. Sherman approached him and fired several more shots at him. A truck driving along the road also stopped, and the driver got out. He came over to stand next to Sherman, and the two men fired several more shots at ‘Abd al-Fattah, who was lying wounded on the ground. According to media reports, ‘Abd al-Fattah succumbed to his wounds a short while later, at Beilinson Hospital in Israel.

This chain of events is also clearly established by partial video footage published in the media. The footage shows Sherman’s car stopping near ‘Abd al-Fattah. Then, about fifteen seconds later, Sherman is seen getting out of the car. Next, a truck is seen pulling over. At that point, the footage breaks off. When it resumes, Sherman and the truck driver are seen firing at ‘Abd al-Fattah.

A young man who works in a nearby shop was hit in the abdomen by one of the shots. He was treated in Rafidiya Hospital, Nablus, and discharged on 7 April. 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.

Immediately after that, about eight soldiers went into two nearby shops to check their security cameras. They dismantled a DVR in one of the shops and left. About twenty minutes later, the soldiers returned to the shop, reinstalled the DVR and watched the footage. Two soldiers filmed the screen with their mobile phones. They then erased the footage from the DVR and left.

B’Tselem’s investigation found that, contrary to media reports, Sherman’s shooting of ‘Abd al-Fattah was unjustified, as the latter had already moved away from the car and was kneeling behind some dumpsters. Moreover, there was clearly no justification whatsoever for the additional shots that Sherman and the truck driver fired at ‘Abd al-Fatah when he was already lying injured on the ground.

The Israeli security forces that arrived on the scene ignored these facts. They did nothing to arrest the two settlers, promptly drove the Palestinians away from the scene, and then addressed the urgent task of eliminating any footage of the incident, to ensure that the truth never comes to light and the shooters would not face any charges or be held accountable in any way.

The identity of both shooters is known. If the authorities so choose, they could easily track them down, at least for questioning. Yet given the troops’ conduct immediately after the incident, and Israel’s longstanding policy, the chances of this are slim to none.”

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