Cameraman in Hebron Shooting: Threats Continuing, Azaria's Supporters Came to My House

Just three days ago supporters of Azaria came to the entrance of his home and shouted that he could still change his testimony, Abu-Shamsiyah told Haaretz.

Emad Abu-Shamsiya at Elor Azaria's trail in Tel Aviv, June 2016.
David Bachar

Emad Abu-Shamsiyah, the resident of the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron who filmed the shooting by Sgt. Elor Azaria of a Palestinian who stabbed an Israeli soldier in Hebron, said he has continued to receive threats, mostly through Facebook.

Abu-Shamsiya told Haaretz on Wednesday that he has received threats in recent days from various Israelis and he wants protection for his family.

Azaria was convicted on Wednesday of manslaughter in a military court. Azaria shot and killed Abed Fattah al-Sharif, 21, from Hebron, who was lying wounded on the street.

Scene from a video released on March 24, 2016 by B'Tselem showing IDF Sgt. Elor Azaria  aiming his weapon before shooting in the head and killing a wounded Palestinian assailant in Hebron.

Just three days ago, supporters of Azaria came to the entrance of his home and shouted at him through the locked door that he could still change his testimony, Abu-Shamsiyah told Haaretz.

"It was a test for the judges and Israeli democracy," he said about Azaria's trial. "It is clear that if I wasn't there and I didn't film it - they would not have believed me and my testimony. The clip embarrassed the Israeli authorities."

Abu-Shamsiyah, who is a volunteer for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, is also an activist in a local Palestinian human rights group in Hebron, Human Rights Defenders. The group's activists, who live or spend time in Hebron, are outfitted with video cameras and document life in the city under military rule and the settlers.

The stabbing attack took place close to Abu-Shamsiyah's home, and when he came out with his camera it never occurred to him that a shooting would happen. Once he realized what he had captured with his camera, Abu-Shamsiyah quickly sent the footage to B'Tselem, knowing the Israeli organization would be able to distribute it quickly and draw more much attention to the video than an anonymous group of Palestinian activists could.

On Wednesday, IDF soldiers did not allow journalists (including at least one Israeli reporter) to reach his home in the old city of Hebron, because the IDF declared the area to be a closed military area, Abu-Shamsiyah told Haaretz.  He conducted interviews over the phone, or in the areas of Hebron under Palestinian control.

In September 2015, B'Tselem complained to the Israel Police that police officers in Hebron had prevented Abu-Shamsiyah from filing a complaint about threats he had received on Facebook at the time. Abu-Shamsiyah went to the police station in Hebron three times, but the police officers did not receive his complaint, and the third time an investigator even ordered him to leave, and threatened to arrest him.

In a letter to the police, sent on behalf of B'Tselem and Abu-Shamsiyah, attorney Gaby Lasky said the police's actions certainly were disciplinary offenses against his client, and possibly even criminal violations of abuse of power. 

Abu-Shamsiyah said he has been detained twice by the police when he tried to file a complaint about the threats he has received, and has stopped trying to complain, he told Haaretz.