Recorded "execution" not first time Israel caught out

Recorded "execution" not first time Israel caught out
Hamdan shooting only the last in a series of killings caught on camera for which Israeli security forces are rarely held to account.
4 min read
13 Nov, 2014
CCTV footage is challenging Israeli narratives [Getty]
A video showing Israeli police shooting Kheir Hamdan, a Palestinian citizen of Israel from Kafr Kana, a town in the Galilee, sparked outrage amongst Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Many have described it as a deliberate execution.

Anger was further fuelled by what Palestinians see as a developing pattern: since 2009 there have been at least five cases of Israeli forces assaulting and killing Palestinians that were caught on camera with few if any repercussions for the perpetrators. Until now only two police officers have been prosecuted and sentenced to short jail terms.

In Hamdan's case, Luba Samri, the spokesperson for the Israeli police, said that “the 22-year-old who was killed, attacked the police with a knife, and after they shot several warning shots in the air, police were forced to shoot him.”

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, challenged the official police statement, however. The NGO said in a statement that, “it is clear from the video footage that the shooting of Hamdan was an execution.” They also rejected the police’s version about firing warning shots.

In the video Hamdan is seen banging on a police van with an object before running away.

A uniformed officer is then seen getting out of the vehicle’s back door and firing his gun at Hamdan, who falls to the ground. Hamdan is then dragged into the police van by one arm.

The footage sugests the policeman aimed at Hamdan’s upper body. The 22 year-old died in hospital.

The young man’s murder sparked outrage. Palestinian citizens of Israel called a general strike and thousands took to the streets in protest.

Hamdan's “execution”, is not the first incident where footage and videos have contradicted official Israeli versions of events.

Another incident that gained international attention and condemnation was that of the assault of Tariq Abu Khdier by Israeli undercover police. Abu Khdier was set upon during a demonstration in Shoufat, in occupied East Jerusalem in July 2014.

The protest was called after the kidnapping and murder of his cousin Muhammad Abu Khdeir's by ultra-Zionist Israeli settlers seeking revenge.

The police officers involved claimed that Tariq was wounded throwing stones at them.

But footage of the attack emerged showed the 15-year-old being kicked and punched repeatedly while lying on the ground and not posing any threat to anyone.

One police officer was suspended for 15 days, but no charges were filed against him by the Israeli Police Investigation Unit (“Mahash”).


In April 2013, Palestinians citizens of Israel were shocked by the police shooting of two minors that resulted in the killing of one in Tayibe, a town in central Israel.

That too was caught on a CCTV camera, and 
footage showed the 16-year-old shot in the back while being chased by the police.

On the same day, however, the Mahash police investigative unit decided “to not further investigate the shooting incident.”

On Nakba day last year, two young Palestinians – Nadim Nauwara, 17, and Muhammad Salameh, 15 – were killed by Israeli border police officers just over an hour apart.

At the time, Israeli defence Minister Moshe Yaalon claimed that the policemen had only used rubber bullets. He supported the police officers’ claims that they were in danger and had therefore acted “appropriately.”

Muhammad’s family did not want to carry out an autopsy, but Nadim family had one performed. The examination found he had been struck with a live bullet to the chest.

This incident was also caught on a CCTV camera, footage from which was bradcast by the American news agency CNN. The images rebut the official Israeli statement as it clearly shows that Nadim and Muhammad posed no threat to Israeli forces. They were both shot while crossing the street.

The shooting of Muhammad Salameh

In this instance, an Israeli border police officer was arrested and charged with the young man’s murder.

For Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, the statistics are stark.

In the past two years, 37 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank. Only 18 of these cases were investigated by the Mahash unit and only one of them resulted in a conviction - a soldier was sentenced to seven months in jail for shooting Oudai Darwish while he was trying to cross the green line in search of work in Israel.

Since 2000, Israeli police have killed 48 Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Mizrahi is the only police officer to have served time in jail since the October 2000 clashes when police shot dead 13 peaceful protesters in Wadi Ara.

In the case of Kheir Hamdan, the Israeli government, following what appears to be a pattern, did not issue any condemnation of the officers’ actions.

The Israeli public security minister, Yitzhak Ahronovich, said he extended his full support to the police officers who acted in “self-defence and worked to thwart and eliminate the threat.”

The Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, declared: “We will not tolerate disturbances and riots.”

Instead he issued a warning  to Palestinian citizens announcing that his government was “evaluating the possibility of revoking the citizenship of those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel.”

Palestinian citizens of Israel compose around 20 percent of Israel’s population.