Hebron Murder Was No Exception, but the Inevitable Result

It’s the present and the future. It’s impossible to maintain the occupation without such murders, their number will only mount.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Israeli soldiers surround the body of one of the two Palestinians who were killed after attacking a soldier in Hebron, March 24, 2016.
Israeli soldiers surround the body of one of the two Palestinians who were killed after attacking a soldier in Hebron, March 24, 2016.Credit: AFP
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

It was murder. It was murder of the most abominable kind, the murder of a helpless human being. It was murder committed by a cowardly soldier, who shot a wounded man.

The murderer’s accomplices were those colleagues of his who said “it’s no big deal” and the officers who spoke on their cellphones or occupied themselves in a thousand different ways while the wounded man lay helpless. The soldier shot him in the head and his body was left bleeding on the road.

If the soldier had shot a stray dog, it would have raised more interest among the soldiers and settlers milling round. They looked so bored – after all, what happened? A soldier shot a Palestinian. We’ve had loads of those.

Israeli racism reached its sickeningly lowest point in Hebron on Thursday. Such indifference to the murder of a person, in front of a crowd of people, has not been seen here before. A wounded person thrown in the road – and it occurs to nobody to help him. A soldier shoots him in the head, and the soldiers and settlers around him are all busy directing the ambulance. Heaven forbid, its bumper might get scratched.

To all those who think this is an exception and all those who are for putting off a peace agreement in favor or “managing the conflict” and those convinced that maybe one day we’ll have to end the occupation, but not now: This murder is the inevitable result. It’s the present and the future. It’s impossible to maintain the occupation without such murders, their number will only mount.

It will be impossible to continue ruling Hebron without daily executions; it will only be possible to hold the West Bank by committing more war crimes.

The momentary storm that erupted in Israel is a self-righteous one. This is exactly what the extrajudicial killings over the past months have looked like – the only difference was the B’Tselem camera. There were plenty of testimonies and evidence about these killings, but Israelis chose to close their eyes. As in previous incidents, the wounded man lying on the road was no threat to anyone - and no shrewd lawyer will be able to convince a decent judge that the soldier fired because he felt that his life was threatened.

Look at the video clip – this is not the way you behave when you feel you’re in danger. This is the way you behave when everything is cool, when you’re having a good time.

Portraying the soldier as a victim is a deliberate distraction. True, the politicians incited him to act this way and the army did nothing to stop him from acting this way, but the soldier shot his victim in cold blood and is responsible for his actions. He simply didn’t know there was a camera present, the unlucky wretch.

Soldiers, beware of the cameras, they are the enemy. Some of the soldiers are already aware of this. The talk about the “booby-trapped terrorist” sounds like a recitation for the camera, as if they were preparing an alibi. Turning the murderer into a victim is also outrageous. The victim is Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, who tried to stab a soldier.

As usual, the chorus of sanctimonious cheer leaders is chanting in the background. The prime minister and defense minister wash their hands of the deed and say it is “opposed to the IDF’s values and its ethical code.” They lie. The fact that no soldier has yet been brought to trial for execution is the real reflection of the army’s values.

Then there are the explicit supporters of the murder, from the education minster down. For them, every murder of a Palestinian is a blessing. It would not occur to them to apologize for their incitement against the left wing NGOs. Were it not for these organizations, we wouldn’t have known.

The next few days will shape the IDF’s image, no less. Failure to indict the soldier and those who took part in enabling it will prove that the IDF does not want to change.

Look at the video and see the IDF of 2016. Listen to the voices of those who see the murderer as a national hero and see Israel of 2016.

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