An Israeli soldier killed a Palestinian outside his home “for no reason whatsoever”, according to an investigation by human rights group B’Tselem.
Despite the fact that the shooting of Omar Al-Badawi in Al-’Arrub refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank was captured on film, B’Tselem does not expect any accountability.
The incident occurred on 11 November, when Israeli occupation forces were responding to protests by youth from the camp marking the 15th anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death.
Soldiers entered the camp, firing rubber-coated metal bullets and using tear gas and stun grenades. In response, some camp residents threw stones and some Molotov cocktails at the soldiers.
At one point, a Molotov cocktail hit the front of a home belonging to the Al-Badawi family, setting fire to a vine and a power line.
Seeking to put out the fire, and as shown in video footage of the incident, 22-year-old Omar Al-Badawi slowly made his way down a passageway “holding a towel”, while “waving to the soldiers to signal he was coming”.
However, when Omar “reached the end of the passageway, a soldier standing further down the road opened fire and hit him in the chest”. Omar was pronounced dead about an hour later.
“A soldier shot and killed a man from some distance away, while he was trying to put out a fire at the entrance to his house,” stated B’Tselem, describing “the preposterous, outrageous, immoral and illegal circumstances” under which the Israeli army killed Omar “for no reason whatsoever”.
Israeli media initially reported that a soldier “felt danger due to the proximity of stone-throwers”, but a different report from the same day claimed a soldier opened fire because he saw Omar “in the area where Molotov cocktails were thrown, standing near a fire with a towel in his hand”.
Meanwhile, the “initial probe” supposedly revealed that the soldier thought the towel “was a Molotov cocktail”. Israeli military sources acknowledged Omar “did not pose a threat to the soldiers when he was shot, and that they should not have used live ammunition”.
While Israeli authorities have said the killing is being investigated by the Military Police Investigation Unit, B’Tselem said that “experience gained over the years shows that these investigations…are not designed to uncover the truth”, but are “merely part of the whitewashing mechanism”.
As such, B’Tselem added, such investigations “do nothing to affect the military’s open fire policy and certainly nothing to deter members of the security forces from unjustifiably using lethal fire against Palestinians, as they did in this case.”
“This places the responsibility for al-Badawi’s death not only on the soldier who shot and killed him, but on all those who allow such shootings to recur, time and time again, with no repercussions.”