.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The New York Times lies about Nakba Day shooting

From Robert Mackey of the NYT:

The Israeli military suspended a soldier who was captured on video this month firing his rifle at protesters in the occupied West Bank. Video evidence showed that the soldier fired his weapon within seconds of a Palestinian boy’s collapsing to the ground with what proved to be a fatal gunshot wound.

As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Wednesday, the suspended soldier, seen in video recorded by a CNN producer, was a member of a communications unit assigned to document the work of combat troops and border police deployed to contain a demonstration in the West Bank town of Beitunia, near Israel’s Ofer Prison, on May 15. The CNN video appeared to show that another shot was fired by a police officer who was standing near the soldier on a hillside above the protesters.

Just seconds after those shots were fired, the CNN camera panned to show demonstrators and medics in a frantic scramble to evacuate the wounded protester, 17-year-old Nadeem Siam Nawara, who died a short time later.

...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.

Doctors who examined the boys before their burials reported that they were both killed by gunshot wounds through their chests.

Mackey puts the "rubber bullet" claim as a dismissive footnote that is only believed by Israeli officials, but he says definitively that the Israeli shot "proved to be" fatal.  However, look at how Haaretz reported the story Mackey is basing his article on:

A probe into the deaths of two Palestinians killed in the West Bank village of Bitunia 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.

The soldier, a member of an IDF communications division, apparently fired his bullet at around the same time that one of the Palestinians, Nadim Nuwara, 17, was killed. However, the IDF has found no evidence proving that this soldier's bullet caused Nuwara's death. The details of the case are under a military court gag order.

...The IDF has acknowledged that its troops fired rubber bullets during the incident – a fact confirmed by footage from both local security cameras and journalists. But the two Palestinians were apparently killed when they were relatively far away from the troops, which would seem to indicate that live fire was used. Yet the soldiers, officers and border policemen present at the scene have all denied that any live bullets were fired.

(The analysis done in the comments here show that the event indeed occurred within range of rubber bullets.)

Haaretz doesn't have to resort to "Israeli security officials" to see what anyone with eyes can see - that the CNN video shows a soldier shooting a rubber bullet at the time Nawara fell to the ground.

Mackey's "reporting" is editorial malfeasance.

I slightly modified my video synchronizing the CNN video and audio with the CCTV footage to make the first shot clearer and to be more explanatory:



More evidence that this was a rubber bullet comes from the anti-Israel side. (In fact, all the proof exculpating Israeli forces comes from images and video intended to do the opposite.)  A remarkable photo that apparently shows the second rubber bullet in flight was posted, I believe, on Mondoweiss, and reproduced in the comments here:


(At first I thought the object might simply be a hole in the door, but other photos show no such holes.)

The sounds of the first and second shots in the CNN video are virtually identical, meaning that they were from the same type of weapon, same type of ammunition and the same location. If this shows a rubber bullet (and it does appear to - no regular camera would catch a live bullet in flight like this and the shape is that of the rubber coated cylinder used by Israel) then the first shot that coincides with Nadeem's fall must also be a rubber bullet.

Now, there is no doubt that the Israeli border police have some serious issues to be addressed - why they apparently allowed someone to shoot who was not authorized, and why they shot rubber bullets at people who were not rioting or endangering anyone at the time. Not to mention that the person who shot the bullet against regulations was apparently from the IDF division that was supposed to be recording events like these specifically to prove what really happens when baseless accusations are leveled against Israeli forces.

There is plenty of blame to go around - but the evidence proves that Nadeem was not killed by Israeli live fire during the timeframe of these videos.  Of this there is no doubt. Even in the highly unlikely scenario that a simultaneous shot was fired from a mystery Israeli at the exact same time, we would hear the difference in sounds on the CNN audio.

What needs to be investigated is how he, or someone, really died, and that is a question that implies such a repugnant answer that no one wants to even contemplate it.

(h/t YMedad)