A U.S. diplomatic cable from February, 2010 released back in September by WikiLeaks revealed that the Israelis had said that at the time that they were having trouble dealing with unarmed demonstrations in the West Bank against the Israeli occupation. According to the cable, one Israeli military official warned that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) “will start to be more assertive in how it deals with these demonstrations.” The February, 2010 cable also said that “[l]ess violent demonstrations are likely to stymie the IDF,” and included a quote from Defense Ministry Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs Amos Gilad: “We don’t do Gandhi very well.”
That sentiment was on full display last Friday in the small Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh. Every Friday for nearly three years, village residents and other activists demonstrate against nearby religious Israeli settlers who claimed a fresh water spring belonging to a Palestinian family.
During Friday’s demonstration, an IDF solider shot a tear gas canister from close range that hit 28 year-old Palestinian Mustafa Tamimi. He died Saturday morning of the wounds suffered from the incident. Video was captured of the protest and the incident’s aftermath. Tamini’s run in with IDF soldiers occurs at around the 6 minute mark. Warning, images are graphic:
IDF officials called the event “exceptional” (+972′s Noam Sheizaf notes that this kind of thing has happened before) and the Israeli military has launched an investigation into Tamini’s death. Army officials seemed to try to justify the incident by tweeting photos of a slingshot (the implication being that Tamini threw stones at the Israeli soldiers). The New York Times reports that those present “did not dispute that Mr. Tamimi had thrown rocks at the armored vehicle before the shooting, but witnesses claimed that the Israeli officer had fired the shell directly at him in violation of Israel Defense Forces regulations.” Sheizaf circles in red the weapon and the tear gas canister. Tamini is on the left in white:
Haaretz reports that the Israeli army said the soldier “didn’t see” Tamimi. But Haim Schwarczenberg, the photographer of the above photo, said, “From what I saw, there is no chance that the soldier had not seen him.”