Sorry, Mahmoud Rafat Badran, 15, Was Killed by 'Mistake'

The Israeli soldiers fired fiercely, with full intent, at the moving car, and they had no idea who was inside except for the fateful fact that they were Palestinians.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Mohammed Rafat Badran, 15, and the scene of a stone-throwing incident on Route 443.
Mohammed Rafat Badran, 15, and the scene of a stone-throwing incident on Route 443.Credit: Courtesy and IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

By mistake the soldiers stood on the bridge, by accident they sprayed the car driving on the road below them with heavy fire, without any idea who was in it. Unintentionally they killed the youth, by accident wounded four of his friends seriously. By mistake the soldiers thought the passengers of the car had thrown rocks and poured oil on the road, mistakenly they thought this allowed them to shoot to their hearts’ desire.

Clearly by accident, because if the youth had thrown rocks, they would have been allowed to kill him. By mistake the IDF initially reported that its soldiers had killed the “terrorist” and wounded his partners, and only after a few hours corrected the mistake and admitted the youth was killed “by accident.” Unintentionally, Israelis have forgotten that Route 443, the high road to the capital, passes deep through the occupied territories on the lands of the surrounding villages, whose residents cannot drive on that road to anywhere.

By mistake the Israelis think this will last forever: They will hurry to Jerusalem on the high road, the children will look at them from below with longing and submissive eyes, from the underpasses built for them, from the enclave of villages they are imprisoned in, which very few of those traveling on Route 443 have heard of and even fewer are interested in.

Mistakenly the Israelis think that the residents of the stolen land will always bow their heads towards the passengers on the road that tore apart their lives. By mistake the violent opposition to this is described as terrorism, expelling the residents is defined as preserving law and order, and the killing of the youth as self-defense. By accident Israel once again is victimized, and the Foreign Ministry spokesman has the gall to accuse the Palestinians of killing the youth.

Mistakenly, the Binyamin region brigade commander, Col. Yisrael Shomer, who himself killed a youth who threw rocks – and was not tried for it or removed from his command – conducted the preliminary inquiry. The presumption is that Shomer knew what to investigate, and especially what not to, before he passed the case on to Military Police investigators. His soldiers certainly told him: We acted exactly the way you did, sir.

Shomer executed the right youth, so it was not even considered a mistake. The soldiers from Route 443 had an operational failure, so they killed by mistake. Mistakenly, Israelis think that their lives are in danger on the road; the lives of Palestinians are in much greater danger. Mistakenly the newspapers wrote: “Ambush on the roads” (Yedioth Aharonoth), “Operational mistake (Israel Hayom), “Killed by mistake” (Maariv) – the finest in the laundering of language by the collaborationist media.

But one thing out of all this was not a mistake. Mahmoud Rafat Badran, 15 years old, who returned with his six friends from a late-night swim in the Lin Land water park, after the meal to end the day’s Ramadan fast, was not killed by accident. The soldiers who shot at him did not do so by mistake. Hadi Badran, one of the passengers wounded by the fire, told B’Tselem field investigator Iyad Haddad on Wednesday that he heard about 15 shots, and the shooting at the car was done from a distance of 40 to 50 meters, which rules out the claim that the soldiers’ lives were in danger.

The soldiers fired fiercely, with full intent, at the moving car, and they had no idea who was inside except for the fateful fact that they were Palestinians. That is why it was not mistaken shooting – it was deliberate killing. Someone trained them to act that way, told them not only that it was permitted, but even necessary. If they had killed a different youth, a rock thrower, they would have earned praise for bravery and a two-page spread in the middle of Yedioth Aharonoth. If only they had killed the right youth.

But the real mistake is the idea that they were allowed to shoot stone throwers fleeing for their lives. And this mistake is malicious. Everything was malicious, including the road they fired from, which was not paved by accident, either, but rather maliciously and with great and evil intent, which is the real reason for everything that has happened there ever since.

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