Does the Israeli Army Plant Knives on Palestinians?

To the Israeli ear the allegation sounds far-fetched. Israelis find it hard to believe that our soldiers and commanders could lie, until it’s proven otherwise by security footage or photos.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Israeli soldiers stand around a wounded Palestinian in Hebron, Oct. 26, 2015, after a stabbing attack near the Cave of the Patriarchs.
Israeli soldiers stand around a wounded Palestinian in Hebron, Oct. 26, 2015, after a stabbing attack near the Cave of the Patriarchs. Credit: AP
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

A former Japanese policeman now visiting Israel said, “I don’t understand. In our country, if someone stabs a policeman, we grab him by the hand and arrest him. We don’t kill him. Why is it different in Israel?” How should we respond? By saying that in our country, soldiers and policemen are instructed to kill a Palestinian holding a knife two meters from them, or a knife in his bag, or something that is assumed to be a knife in his pocket?

Four days in Hebron were not enough to keep track of all those killed in the city. Six different articles couldn’t cover everything that accumulated. The glassy eyes of the mourning parents. The arrogant nighttime raids of homes by the Shin Bet security service, the threats to demolish one’s home (even when no Israeli had been killed). So here are a few briefs, to make up for the lack of space.

“After a few days of deceptive silence, another shooting attack,” reported Ynet on Friday, after two Israelis were killed in the southern West Bank. Wrong. The raid on the hospital in Hebron, the snatching of patient Azzam Shalaldeh (who’d been shot and wounded by a settler) and the killing of his cousin Abdullah does not constitute quiet, deceptive or otherwise.

The Haaretz website similarly described a stabbing attack in Jerusalem last Tuesday as a break in the relative quiet. But in Jerusalem it is never quiet; every night policemen burst into homes and arrest children and teens, patrol neighborhoods and terrorize people. And that’s besides the killing of demonstrators and the bureaucratic violence of home demolitions and revocation of residency status. So long as we don’t get that the occupation is one continuous terror attack, we won’t know how to end the attacks on Israelis.

It was written that on October 17, Bayan Osileh, 16, approached the checkpoint at the Ashmoret Yitzhak Border Police base “near the Cave of the Patriarchs.” Wrong. She arrived at the checkpoint that cuts off her neighborhood from the rest of Hebron. Israeli media always describe the site of an incident as military and Israeli. For example, they say Checkpoint 160 and the Zion route, and never the A-Salaimeh neighborhood and Wadi al-Hussein. That’s how tens of thousands of people whose homes and childhoods are there are made to vanish, while the Israeli mindset sees the erasure of Palestinians from their city as self-evident.

Osileh asked a female border policeman how to get to a certain place, a security source told Haaretz. The policewoman responded that she should “ask the locals.” Osileh stuck her hand into her schoolbag, as if she was looking for her cell phone, pulled out a knife and stabbed the policewoman’s protective vest. The policewoman pushed Osileh back and she fell. The policewoman sustained a cut to her hand.

“The young woman tried to get up,” the security source said, “and the fighter shot her, a bullet or two, I think.” Right in the chest. Couldn’t the policewoman make do with wounding and arresting the girl?

Suspect raised hands

Late last month, soldiers from the Tzabar Battalion killed two 22-year-olds at the Gilbert checkpoint in Tel Rumeida. International volunteers saw how Islam Obaido was killed on October 28. According to them, he was walking down the street toward the checkpoint. Two soldiers, standing at some distance from their colleagues at the checkpoint, stood in front of him. Obaido raised his hands. One or both of them shot two bursts of gunfire at him. An international volunteer said he wasn’t holding a knife, but Israel Defense Forces photographs showed a knife near the body. Obaido was shot from a meter away. Couldn’t the soldiers have just wounded him rather than killed him?

No volunteers actually saw the shooting of Hummam Is’aid on October 27, they just heard the shots. A volunteer looked out the window of her apartment and saw the body surrounded by soldiers and settlers. She didn’t see a knife. She moved away from the window for a second, and when she returned, there was a knife, she said.

Are soldiers planting knives after the fact, as the Palestinians believe? To the Israeli ear that sounds far-fetched, even an illegitimate question. But let’s ask: Have soldiers and policemen never lied to justify the unjustified arrest or shooting or killing of Palestinians? Israelis find it hard to believe that our soldiers and commanders could lie, until it’s proven otherwise by security cameras or still pictures of which the soldiers weren’t aware.

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