Thursday, May 29, 2014

  • Thursday, May 29, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon
Ben Ehrenreich writes that the bullets that killed the youths in Beitunia were not fired by the Israeli shooters in the CNN video, but from an entirely different group:

In the LARB article I quoted a doctor who treated both boys and who told me that their wounds were without question caused by live fire. Nuwara was shot in the chest, Abu Thaher in the back: both bullets passed through their bodies, leaving exit wounds. The rubber-coated steel bullets used by the IDF can and often do penetrate the skin and can be lethal, but they cannot pass entirely through a human torso even when fired from a relatively short distance. I interviewed four eyewitnesses to the killings, all of whom said live fire was used. (The concussion from a live shot sounds differently than that of a shot when rubber-coated bullets are fired. I have met 11-year-olds in the West Bank who can accurately tell what sort of munitions are being fired by ear alone. All four of the eyewitnesses I interviewed had witnessed many such clashes and knew the difference well.) Three of them testified that they saw Israeli commanders choosing targets and pointing them out to snipers just before each boy was killed.

One thing is worth noting: the bullet that killed Nadim Nuwara was almost certainly not fired by the soldier caught on the CNN video. It was almost certainly a coincidence that he fired his weapon at approximately the same moment that Nuwara was hit. And he almost certainly was shooting rubber-coated bullets: the video is hazy, but his rifle appears to be equipped with the sort of extension that is attached to the barrel of an M16 to allow it to fire rubber-coated bullets. Mohannad Darabee, one of the witnesses I interviewed, told me repeatedly that he was sure the shot that killed Nuwara did not come from the group of Border Police who had gathered on a driveway just uphill and slightly back from the road. Darabee walked me to the spot where Nuwara fell, and to the spot from which the Border Police (and the now-suspended soldier) had been firing. The corner of a building stood in the way: there was no line of fire that would have allowed those soldiers to hit Nuwara.

However, another, larger group of Israeli soldiers had gathered behind a concrete blast wall on the edge of a parking lot about 200 meters from the spot where Nuwara was hit. (See image above.) It was there, Darabee said, that he saw a commander choosing targets through binoculars. Those soldiers had an unimpeded shot at Nuwara. Forgive me if this is all a bit hard to visualize: The Guardian produced a graphic that maps it all out. But I want to make this very clear, because the waters have been muddied considerably, both through deliberate obfuscation and by speculation about a video that reveals less than it appears to: the fact that the soldier caught on video by CNN was apparently firing rubber-coated bullets only confirms the accounts of eyewitnesses who testified that the bullet that killed Nadim Nuwara was likely fired by another group of soldiers gathered at the edge of the parking lot. Abu Thaher, who was shot an hour earlier, and was standing in the middle of the road, easily visible from the Border Police officers’ perch, could have been killed by either group.
I responded:

The CNN video doesn't only show two shots of rubber bullets - it has the sounds of the shots. The first two shots recorded sound the same and the first one corresponds with Nawara's falling down.

Are you saying that the Israeli police in the other area shot live fire at exactly the same time both times? That would be unbelievable.


The Guardian had also reported of another group of Israeli troops to the south with a clear line of sight. I have no reason to doubt that some border police were there are well. However, we conveniently don't have video of them to see what kind of weapons they were firing. Apparently the dozen or so journalists at the scene, all witnessing gunshots from two directions, didn't bother to photograph one of the groups of soldiers doing anything aggressive. Moreover, this theory would also assume that the CNN videographer, who would have definitely been able to tell the difference between gunshots straight ahead of him and shots from his left, ignored the actual source of the gunshots!

More to the point, however, is that if there really were Israeli shooters at this other location using live fire, and if every child in the West Bank can distinguish between live bullets and rubber bullets by sound, then the CCTV video makes no sense.

All of the people in the video use the building to the right (west) in the clear CCTV video as cover from being shot. Why would they remain in an exposed position where live bullets could kill them? Many times throughout the CCTV video we see them flinch and run for cover - always in the direction away from the "CNN shooters," closer to the building, never out of the line of sight of this new mysterious second group of Israelis that were supposedly shooting at them. They aren't nervously looking down the road, even in the footage after the first incident that supposedly came from the new southern position. They aren't seeking cover from these supposedly obvious sniper shots.

There is one exception: at 14:46:05 of the CCTV video  we see everyone run away at once from something, running north, but with no discernible flinching that a gunshot would generate.



It takes several minutes before people re-appear, many from inside the building. But no one ducked into the building as one would expect if they wanted to take cover as quickly as possible. Also, some of them ran into the street - into a more exposed position (other angle video) and not around the corner. My guess is that this quick evacuation was either a false alarm that someone shouted out or maybe the sound of a tear gas canister coming that way.

Notably, no one reacts this way during either of the alleged shooting incidents on video. If the shots came from this other position, the crowd would react very differently.

So this new theory has no objective evidence, and the lack of audio evidence in the CNN video makes it highly unlikely, at least in the case of Nawara. Even the video of the incident with Mohammed Thaer doesn't show anyone looking in the direction of, or taking cover from, the supposed mysterious second shooter with the completely different sounding bullets from the completely different position.

If Ben Ehrenfeld can dig up more video from his journalist buddies showing the second Israeli position, by all means, let's see it. But the CCTV footage shows nothing that would support this new theory, which at the moment sounds more like a conspiracy theory than anything that has solid evidence.

And it might be reasonable to be a little more skeptical about Palestinian eyewitness testimony.

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