JERUSALEM — After a video of an Israeli soldier executing an incapacitated Palestinian suspect went viral, two Israeli settlers are demanding a police investigation of the activist who recorded the act and the human rights group that released it online.
On March 24, Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif and Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, 21-year-old Palestinian men, were shot by Israeli Defense Forces soldiers after allegedly stabbing an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint near Hebron. Emad Abu Shamsiya, a Palestinian staff member at the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, recorded Elor Azraya, an IDF soldier, shooting al-Sharif at point blank range in the head as al-Sharif was on the ground, motionless but alive.
Watch “Soldier shoots, kills Palestinian attacker lying on the ground, Hebron” from B’Tselem:
Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bentzi Gopstein, two settlers known for subscribing to an extremist form of Zionism, have filed a formal police complaint alleging wrongdoing by Abu Shamsiya and B’Tselem, according to a March 27 report from Mondoweiss, a progressive Jewish news site.
“[T]hey claim that Abu Shamsiya’s presence during the killing is no coincidence, but was coordinated with the alleged attack in order to capture damning video,” Dan Cohen reported.
In the complaint (Hebrew), Ben-Gvir and Gopstein argue:
“In our opinion the accumulation of cases and their number raises questions and it would be quite naive to think that we might be talking about a coincidence. It deserves to be checked and examined, is there coordination, between certain elements of those who carry out offenses and those who are present on the spot exactly at the same time?”
The complaint would require Abu Shamsiya to not only have known in advance about the Palestinian attack, but to have somehow predicted that at least one attacker would be left alive and then subsequently executed.
Cohen notes that both Ben-Gvir and and Gopstein are followers of the late ultra-nationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane, himself a participant in multiple deadly attacks. They also have a history of support for apartheid Israel’s occupation of Palestine:
“Ben-Gvir is a lawyer who defends Jews suspected of vigilante attacks including the killers of the Dawabshe family. Gopstein is founder of the state-funded anti-miscegenation movement Lehava, and has called for churches to be burned.”
Settlers have been repeatedly linked to violent attacks on Palestinians, and the settlements themselves are widely considered illegal by the international community.
Abu Shamsiya received death threats from settlers after the video’s release provoked global outrage, according to a March 25 report from Ma’an News Agency, a Palestinian news site.
“I now fear for my life and the life of my family. I’m afraid they might attack my house and do me harm,” he told Ma’an.
“He added that he fears the possibility of suffering the same fate as the Dawabsha family, who were killed in an arson attack committed by settlers last year in the village of Duma in the occupied West Bank,” the Ma’an report noted.