Settler Defends Killing of Palestinian: They Almost Lynched Me

The settler was driving near Nablus in West Bank when his car was hit by stone throwers. He opened fire, killing one man, wounding another ■ Police say he's not a criminal suspect

Palestinian protesters surround a car reportedly driven by an Israeli settler as it attempts to cross a crowd of demonstrators near the Hawara military checkpoint in the West Bank on May 18, 2017
Palestinian protesters surround a car reportedly driven by an Israeli settler as it attempts to cross a crowd of demonstrators near the Hawara military checkpoint in the West Bank on May 18, 2017 JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP

An Israeli man who shot Palestinian protesters who threw rocks at his car in the West Bank on Thursday, killing one man and wounding another, said he was forced to fire his gun because his life was in danger.

The Israeli army said that around 200 Palestinians were demonstrated in the area and confirmed that some of them threw rocks. Soldiers who were brought to the area after the shooting were using crowd control measures to disperse the protest.

An eyewitness told Haaretz that a number of young Palestinian men blocked the road near Hawara. He said that a settler who had been driving by pulled out a gun and fired at them.

Warning: Graphic footage

The Palestinian Ministry of Health gave the name of the man who was killed as Muataz Hussein Hilal Bani Shamsa, 23, from the Nablus-area village of Beita. The eyewitness added that an Associated Press photographer was in moderate condition after being shot by the settler. The Health Ministry confirmed that the photographer was shot in the arm.

The shooter, a social worker and a father of eight who lives in the Itamar settlement with his family, filed a police complaint against his presumed attackers.

A wounded Palestinian journalist next to the body of a man killed by an Israeli settler. The Israeli was firing back at stone-throwers
JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP

“I was returning from shopping at [a supermarket], the bags were in the car, a violent demonstration broke out in the center of Hawara,” the man said in a videotaped deposition that was distributed to the media. Hawara is a Palestinian town in the Nablus area. The police stressed that the shooter is not a criminal suspect at this stage of the investigation, and that his deposition was for the criminal complaint that he lodged.

“Praise God, fortunately I managed to get away after looking death in the face. They almost lynched me. I managed to get home in one piece and I bless God for the great miracle,” the shooter said. He refused to answer additional questions.

His wife, in a statement issued by the local government, said her husband was forced to shoot.

“Praise God that it ended the way it did, they tried to lynch him. … The police looked at the car and said they tried to lynch him,” she said. “The children are from seven months old up to 13 years, some of them know what happened.”

"An Israeli citizen was brutally attacked by a group of Palestinian assailants who threw rocks at his car and tried to murder him, my inquiries suggest," Education Minister and Habayit Hayehudi party Chairman Naftali Bennett said Thursday in response to the incident.

"In order to prevent a lynching, he fired at his attackers and killed one of them. This must be clear: Rocks kill, the blood of Adele Biton is a painful example of this," Bennett said, a reference to an Israeli toddler who died two years after she was critically injured in a stone-throwing incident in the West Bank in 2013.

"If the Israeli citizen, who is a social worker and a father, had not acted as he did, the State of Israel today would have had to look his orphaned children in the eye. Any one of us, as a parent, as a citizen, would have acted" as the settler did, Bennett said.