Israeli army "to investigate" after helping settlers shoot Palestinians
Published Monday, May 21, 2012
The Israeli army on Monday said it was investigating the shooting of unarmed Palestinians by Israeli settlers, after a video showed the military protecting the settlers as they opened fire.
The shooting incident took place on Saturday afternoon during stone-throwing clashes between settlers from the hardline Yitzhar settlement and Palestinian villagers from Asira al-Qibliya near Nablus.
The footage, which shows a Palestinian being shot by two settlers in the presence of at least three soldiers, was captured by a volunteer for the Israeli rights group B'Tselem.
The indifference of the soldiers to the shootings was condemned by the rights group, who said the videos raise "grave suspicions that the soldiers present did not act to prevent the settlers from throwing stones and firing live ammunition at the Palestinians."
"The soldiers did not try to remove the settlers and in fact are seen standing by settlers while they are shooting and stone throwing," it said.
B'Tselem has filed a complaint with the police, urging them to prosecute the gunmen, and also with the military police calling for an investigation into the soldiers' conduct.
In one of the clips, two settlers with M-16 assault rifles can be seen opening fire at a stone-thrower in a green shirt who collapses onto the ground after being hit in the head.
In the second clip from a slightly different angle, a third settler can be seen firing with a pistol towards the stonethrowers as three soldiers stand close by doing nothing.
In response, the army said troops had arrived at the scene to break up a violent confrontation in which both sides were throwing stones at each other.
"During the confrontation live fire was used; the incident is currently being investigated by the division commander," a military statement said.
Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank and Gaza are illegal under international law but have been encouraged by Israel, despite criticism from the UN and other international bodies.
The Jewish state maintains an occupation in the West Bank and a siege on Gaza.