New video evidence by an Israeli human rights group shows the life of a senior Israeli officer was not in danger when he shot a 17-year-old Palestinian boy.
Mohammed Kasbeh was among a group of teenagers who threw stones at the windscreen of a passing Israeli army vehicle near the main military checkpoint in the West Bank city of Ramallah on July 3.
He died after the officer in the Jeep, Col. Yisrael Shomer, shot Kasbeh three times.
The incident received a lot of media coverage, prompting overwhelming support for Shomer from senior members of Israel’s government, including Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who claims he acted in self-defense.
“When one rises to kill you, kill him first,” Bennett wrote on his Facebook page. “I completely stand behind the Binyamin Brigade commander that acted facing a terrorist to defend his own life and the lives of his soldiers. This is how a commander in the IDF should act. The people of Israel are behind you.”
“Throwing stones is terrorism. Stones kill. The Binyamin Brigade commander was acting in self-defense,” stated Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan.
However, recent surveillance footage of the shooting released by an Israeli human rights organization could leave these politicians red-faced.
As seen in the video released by B’Tselem, while Kasbeh indeed threw a stone at his vehicle’s windshield, it appears that Shomer’s life was not in danger when he shot the teen. The officer got out of his Jeep and chased the boy, who was in fact running away from Shomer.
There are also eye-witnesses who claim that Shomer approached kicked or pushed Kasbeh as he lay dying before driving away.
“The claim that Ali-Kosba posed a mortal threat to the soldiers at the time of the shooting, having fled the scene, is unreasonable,” states B’Tselem. “There is no doubt that the shattering of the Jeep’s front window with a stone endangered the passengers when it happened. However, Ali Kosba was shot in the back after the fact, when he was already running away and posing no 'mortal threat' to the soldiers. Feeling a sense of danger is not enough to justify any action.”
The left-wing nonprofit added that although Israeli authorities are investigating the incident, it is “highly doubtful” the Military Police Investigations Unit (MPIU) “could carry out an effective, unbiased investigation.”