In Israel, the Life of a Palestinian Is Cheap

When it comes to shooting a Palestinian, pulling the trigger does not come with a real fear of having to answer to the law.

The pictures from Friday's events in Nabi Saleh are hard to swallow: An Israel Defense Forces soldier opens the back door of an armored military jeep and, from a distance of just a few meters, fires a tear-gas canister directly at a young man who is throwing stones. After the canister is fired, the jeep continues on its way without stopping.

A photographer on the scene relates that the young man "fell to the ground, remained conscious for a few seconds, and then began bleeding profusely from the region of his eye." He was subsequently evacuated for treatment at Beilinson Hospital, where he was sedated and placed on a respirator. On Saturday, he died from his wounds.

Nabi Saleh funeral Dec. 11, 2011 (AFP)

The incident took place during the weekly demonstration held by residents of Nabi Saleh against the expropriation of their land in favor of the nearby settlement of Halamish and the settlers' takeover of a spring that served the Palestinian residents. The young man who was killed has a name - Mustafa Tamimi, 28, a resident of the village and regular participant in the demonstrations that have been taking place there every Friday for the past two years.

The IDF Spokesman's Office said in response that "the army is looking into the incident." But one needs to wonder about the use of the term "looking into." A report published last week by Yesh Din-Volunteers for Human Rights, which examined 192 complaints - including an analysis of the content of 67 Military Police investigations into various types of severe harm to Palestinian civilians and their property - reveals that 96.5 percent of the total number of complaints are closed without indictments.

The reasons for this are varied - the lack of Military Police bases in the West Bank, professional shortcomings in the Military Police investigations, victims who retract complaints for fear of losing permits or suffering harm at the hands of soldiers they have complained against. But the conclusion is obvious: When it comes to shooting a Palestinian, pulling the trigger does not come with a real fear of having to answer to the law.

On the day Tamimi was killed, Chaim Levinson published a report in Haaretz that dealt with the failings of the Israel Police's Judea and Samaria District with regard to investigations into harm to Palestinians. Concerning the killing of 10-year-old girl Abir Aramin by the IDF in early 2007, the High Court of Justice ruled that the incident was improperly handled; and to date, no one has been called on to answer for the 2009 killing of demonstrator Bassem Abu Rahme. Will the death of Mustafa Tamimi be added to the statistics that show that in Israel, the life of a Palestinian is cheap?