Elihu Stone * has kindly passed on to me his research after reviewing the newly-released B'tselem video clips of the shootings of Arab youths last week (see my previous ongoing posting) and see EOZ update below.
Once again, Israel finds herself in the dock, accused of killing two unarmed Palestinian teenagers on Naqba day, during lulls in the rock slinging and Molotov cocktail launching.
The Israeli military insists that its soldiers fired only rubber bullets that day – and all pictures of the soldiers shot that day confirm that the Israeli’s rifles were equipped with attachments designed for use only with rubber bullets.. However, Palestinian sources claim the boys were murdered in cold blood, by soldiers using live fire.
CNN interviewed the father of one of the boys, who claimed his son was shot in the chest by a bullet that exited his back and became lodged in his knapsack. The father claimed to have been presented with the bullet at the hospital where his son died - and showed it to the CNN photojournalist. The bullet appears to be an M-16 round and is remarkably intact. Israeli ballistics experts contend that the bullet's intact appearance is wholly inconsistent with the allegation that it passed through a boy's body and lodged in a backpack full of school supplies.
This leitmotif of IDF brutality now been playing for decades in varying keys: Palestinians and their supporters claim to have photographed Israelis wantonly murdering Palestinian children while subsequent investigations have ultimately proven that the Palestinian evidence for these claims is routinely staged, fabricated or manipulated. Think of Jenin, The Al Durah Affair, The Mishrawi Incident, to name just a few cases where the public rushed to judgment against Israel based on allegations and pictures that had great emotional impact – and were misleading in the extreme.
It is hard to fathom just why -- like Charles Schultz’s Charlie Brown, with Lucy and the football -- the general public and many media outlets fall consistently for serial Palestinian claims of atrocities and rush headlong, with credulity unbounded, to blame Israel for heinous crimes.
There is a famous riddle that goes like this:
A father and his son are in a car accident. The father dies instantly, and the son is taken to the nearest hospital. The doctor comes in and exclaims "I can't operate on this boy."
"Why not?" the nurse asks.
"Because he's my son," the doctor responds.
How is this possible?
After a moment’s refection one realizes that the surgeon is the boy’s mother. The reason the riddle ‘works’ at all relies on the prevalent presumption that surgeons are men –. Unless one overcomes that presumption, the riddle cannot be easily solved.
The same intellectual bias is driving the accusations now levelled against the IDF. The knee-jerk reaction to blame Israel relies on the presumption that only the Israelis would have shot the boys. Is that presumption warranted – or even reasonable? The problem is compounded because despite the lack of evidence tying Israel to the deaths, NGO’s who pride themselves as great defenders of International Law have moved beyond suspecting Israel of killing innocents to condemning Israel for wanton murder and war crimes without even the pretense of following legal process.
In civilized society, the innocence of the accused is presumed and solid evidence of wrong doing is a pre-requisite for any condemnation. Whether in the sphere of civil law where liability must generally be verified by a preponderance of the evidence or in criminal matters where guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Here there is not only reasonable doubt – It turns out that the full security camera video released by B’tselem today shows with near crystal clarity that the shooting footage was staged in its entirety. The full video provides the context so sorely lacking in the film that was first broadcast. Watching the video following the time stamps provided by the security cameras one can clearly see how the shots were set up.
Here is the information captured by video camera 1 and posted by B’tselem today:
At 13:43:11 someone in a black tank top and mask (who is clearly a ring leader, judging from how others treat him in the video) is handed off a camera - He then hands it off to someone else (dressed in a white T-shirt and black knapsack) at 13:43:37, who sits down upon a low cylinder located right in front of an alleyway. He fellow holding the camera and putters around with it for a short while starting at 13:44:25. At 13:44:49 another person checks in with the fellow puttering with the camera and the fellow checking in looks out toward the street as if he's expecting something (13:45:01). Just prior to that, someone in a red shirt walks up from the bottom of the screen, arms waving, and cuts sharply to his right for no apparent reason (unless he's also expecting ‘something’) - At that same moment, someone else someone approaches the fellow puttering with the camera and then also goes over to look left - as though he, too, is expecting something (13:45:01) Finally, the two people who have checked out the scene meet up... and everyone on-camera moves a bit toward the right effectively clearing the scene.
At 13:45:08 the youth who will be 'shot' appears near the bottom left of the screen. At 13:45:10 just as the youth is parallel to the fellow tinkering with the camera, the ‘victim’ appears to be hit (and pitches forward which is highly unlikely for someone who was allegedly hit hit in the chest by standard M-16 5.56 rounds used by the IDF.
Here's the kicker: Everyone on the set reacts to the "shot" except for the fellow tinkering with the camera - now directly opposite the "victim". The fellow with the camera stays stock still - then jogs a nonchalant two steps over the the victim snaps a string of stills as the other rush to "evacuate" the "victim" -- then he moves down the street, taking off the camera and putting in his knapsack..
Context is a beautiful thing....
The second "shooting" is also clearly staged - this is especially obvious once we have seen how the first was performed - and we know what to look for.
The first thing to note is that an hour after the first “shooting” the second “victim” falls at _exactly_ the same spot, with lots of cameramen in position and waiting (as helpfully captured in the fuller B'tselem video). The set-up for the second seems even more elaborate than the first.
See this clip
My timing might not be as exact as it should be but I am amazed that B'tselem could actually try purvey all of this as anything but Pallywood once they saw the full video.
Here's the set up -
At 14:45:42 one of the characters that set up the first shot is back and at 14:46:05 everyone clears that set completely. At 14:48:42 cameramen outfitted with flak jackets, gas masks and helmets show up. They will cluster in the alleyway near the building which is flanked by two low cylinders (one of which was sat upon by a civilian-clothed cameraman before the first shooting). This landmark orients where the victim should fall. By 14:49:40 lots of cameramen are taking up positions... (possibly including a civilian-clothed group that is walking toward the Israeli position in the upper left hand corner of the screen- I'll bet CNN's stringer is in that group.)
At 14:52:31 set-up guy returns for a final look - It's time for the photographers to get a shot - check their light meters, etc. At 14:52:30 to 14:52:45 the cameramen take sample footage of a fellow wielding a sling shot in the target zone and check their equipment. 14:53:15 there's a young boy in a blue shirt with the photographers - it is unclear what exactly he is doing their but he is clearly in on the action. At 14:55:12 a fellow in a red shirt shows up - He looks ver much like one of the spotters in the first scene (the fellow who suddenly ducked right)...
At 14:56:24, the main actor takes the stage – and at 14:57:11 he positions himslef by the cylinder.
At 14:57:58 extras appear on the set- A fellow with a black flag-cape sits on the same cylinder as did the photographer on the first scene... 14:58:09. The main actor starts his walk up the street from the bottom of the screen, passes the cylinder and when he reaches the end of the building he turns his back to the Israeli position and starts to walk back down with his face toward security camera 1. Just as he reaches the second cylinder flanking the alleyway with all the cameramen 14:58:49 the victim falls, "shot" in the back – exactly in front of the bevy of photographers waiting for the shot.
... Note that the fellow sitting on the cylinder again does not react. Other extras come running -calling for the ambulance and possibly other camera people, who arrive en masse and spirit the body away. Cut/Print!
The real -and disturbing - question remains; how did the two dead boys really die - and who was in on this? That's what a proper investigation should be focusing on - and the bodies calling so self-righteously for an investigation should get an eye-full.
I hope someone in the IDF Spokesperson's Office or the Foreign Ministry reads this.
For technical reasons, only small parts of the footage showing the shooting incident in Bitunya were published in the media and on our website (http://bit.ly/1qT4NDt). Those questioning the authenticity of the footage are now welcome to watch all 11 hours of it, which are being uploaded to Youtube. At present, the full footage from two of the four security cameras that captured the incident is available:
Since 2012, Israeli security forces have killed 45 Palestinians in the West Bank, in 36 incidents. To the best of B’Tselem’s knowledge, the Military Police opened investigations into 20 incidents, in addition to one investigation by the Department for the Investigation of Police and two police investigations. To date, one indictment has been served, against a soldier. In six of the cases, the investigation file was closed. In the rest, the investigation is still under way, or the MAG has not yet decided whether to serve an indictment or close the file. An investigation system that results in almost no indictments for killing Palestinians can hardly serve as a deterrent, and conveys disregard for human life.
We can only hope that the exceptional attention paid to the footage of the incident at Bitunya will lead to a swift and efficient investigation this time.
Please see the comments to this post.
Algemeiner mentions us.
And here's one:
The timeline is important, like Al Durah. If the patient was being treated before the incident happened, same as Al Durah, it raises the question of whether these children were killed before this happened, the kids in the videos were just acting to cover up the murder of these children by Palestinians themselves. This was a theory with Al Durah as well. The problem is proving any of this, or even presenting it without sounding like a total whack job.______________________
Has the IDF been able to get other videos and photos from the media at the scene? Is there blood in any of the photos shot close up by the photographers? Can you see the faces of the boys shot clearly? Have there been photos of the boys in the hospital? Are there autopsy reports? Were bullets recovered other than the one found 4 days later in the kids' backpack? I hope the IDF doesn’t wait 10 years to do the right data collection this time, like they did with Al Durah.
...The medical reports for both youths claimed that the bullets ripped through their bodies and exited out the other side. We have seen no blood on any of the still photos anywhere near the entrance or exit wounds. But the video shows that the ground where they were supposedly shot through has no bloodstains at all.
By the way, Walla reports that there were two medical reports issued for Nadim Nawarah. In the first there was no exit wound at all, but after his father went on TV claiming to have seen a bullet hole in Nadim's backpack and a (clearly unfired) bullet within, then the medical report was changed to suddenly find an exit wound.
So, what other lies have been given out by the oh-so-ethical Palestinian Arab coroner?
New Palestinian Protester Prototype Does Not Bleed When Shot
PallywoodBeituniya, May 23 – Analysis of the video footage surrounding the apparent shooting death of a Palestinian youth last week has military experts concluding that the Palestinians have developed a new type of protester, one that emits no blood even when its exterior is pierced.
Haaretz has reported that
A probe into the deaths of two Palestinians killed in the West Bank village of Beitunia during a Nakba Day demonstration earlier this month took a dramatic turn on Wednesday, when a CNN video clip showed a non-combat soldier, who had accompanied his comrades on the mission, firing what appeared to be a rubber bullet during the incident.
Rubber bullets at that distance do not kill. And a possible conclusion is that the soldier assessed that his life was in danger and that what the cameras showed was not as exact as what the soldier, at his angle was seeing as well as a non-combat soldier, with less experience, perhaps presumed the danger was greater. As the Border Police commander at the scene can be seen taking the rifle away from the soldier immediately after he fired the rubber bullet, obviously there was a tight immediate command control.
And now NYT Mackey reports this item but leaves out that he was firing a rubber-bullet from the special barrel attachment.
An additional report that shows Mackey biased and unethical in leaving out a pertient fact:
An IDF soldier from a communications unit who accompanied Border Police at a Nakba Day rally on May 15 at which two Palestinian teenagers were killed, has been suspended from his unit for firing rubber bullets at protesters that day against orders.
The IDF spokesperson’s office stressed Wednesday that there was no evidence directly linking the soldier’s actions to the deaths of Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh, 16. However, the soldier’s unauthorized shots remain under investigation, and a gag order has been imposed on further details of the case.
And yes, he does later note:
An Israeli security official who requested anonymity to comment on a continuing investigation told The Times that the soldier had been suspended from his position for firing his weapon without authorization. The official insisted, however, that the soldier had fired only rubber bullets, not live ammunition.
That is quite a misleading piece of journalism.
And now I have seen that not only for sure did he fire a rubber bullet but he managed to hit ... the wall in front of him.
Elihu D Stone practiced law in Boston, Massachusetts and is currently a member of the Israeli Bar; He is involved in the Al Durah Project, an initiative dedicated to understanding and countering the dilemmas and vulnerabilities that face democratic cultures in this age of aggressive asymmetric and cognitive warfare. Elihu is an alumnus of the Wexner Heritage Foundation
A new comment from DH:
From the time that the ambulance leaves until the first young man is "shot" no one walks out in the open sunlight. At roughly 13:43:20 someone walks across the frame straddling the border between the shadow and the sunlight and then pulls into the shade. At about 13:43:45 someone at the far end of the view goes out by a dumpster. At 13:44:33 someone else walks along the border. At 13:44:49 someone comes into view, throws his hands in the air walks towards the sunlight and then suddenly turns back into the shade. On the near side no one walks in the open sunlight for some two minutes until the "victim" appears. When he falls (apparently having heard the shot) he falls right at the border and heightwise in the frame, it's midway (a point made by someone else, that both of those shot were shot in the middle of the frame taken by a fixed security camera.)^
I don't know that this proves anything, but could it be that the shot was provoked by something not on camera and that he fell at a designated spot. It's odd that after the ambulance pulls away, everyone avoids the open sunlight.
(It seemed to me and it's something I'm not so certain about but does the first young man simply fall? It appears that he launches himself upwards ever so slightly before he falls and viewing the "fall" a number of times last night it really looks more like he's going into an intentional tumble at first.)