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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Anatomy of a supposed "settler attack"

Ma'an, as well as the rest of the PalArab media, reports:
Israeli settlers executed an 18-year-old shepherd boy in the fields outside Aqraba, a town in the Nablus district of the northern West Bank.

Village municipal affairs representative Ghassan Douglas identified the young man as Yahya Atta Riahin. Douglas said that a gang of Israeli settlers from Itamar settlement shot the boy at least 20 times at close range.

Yahya did not return home with his sheep for the fast-breaking meal, Iftar. His family alerted the neighbors and the whole village organized a search party to look for the missing boy.

His body was found in fields between the illegal Israeli settlement of Itamar and the villages of Aqraba and Awarta.

According to Douglas, eyewitnesses reported seeing a white vehicle driven by Israeli settlers stop, chase down the boy and shot him directly.
We have here a story that only exists in the Palestinian Arab press and its veracity depends on a politician who claims that eyewitnesses saw it. (Some of the Arabic press is more lurid, claiming that the settlers beheaded the victim.)

None of the Israeli media has picked up on this story nor has any wire service.

Besides the fact that it is highly implausible that a carful of settlers was driving around just to kill a random Arab shepherd for no reason, there is another problem with this story: it supposedly happened on the Jewish Sabbath.

It had to have happened before the Sabbath was over, because the dead youth would have made sure to make it home to his family at the moment of the Iftar meal during Ramadan which would be roughly the same time that Shabbat is over.

So now we are supposed to believe that not only were settlers driving around and randomly murdering Palestinian Arabs, but that these supposed religious fanatics were violating the Sabbath to do that?

Sorry, but chances are more likely that the victim was shot by other Arabs, or something completely different happened. As it is, the accusations seem to be just another of a long series of lies.

UPDATE: The Israeli media is now reporting this story. YNet mentions the skepticism that "settlers" have towards being blamed; al-Aretz predictably believes the accusation, which now includes the detail that it happened "late Saturday night" - which means that the shepherd was still alive when he missed his family's Iftar meal, again making no sense.

UPDATE 2: Sure enough, it was not a settler attack. Ma'an reports it came from a grenade, which might indicate either a mistake or a "work accident." (h/t Shimshon)