A stunning admission (in Hebrew)

A stunning admission was published overnight on Richard Silverstein’s Tikun Olam blog, here: the Israeli Border Police person [apparently male] who finished off an already-wounded Ziad Julani in the Wadi Joz neighborhood of downtown East Jerusalem on 11 June, has reportedly admitted firing at “point blank range”.

Why? Because, the Border Police person said, because he believed Ziad was a “terrorist”.

This has been, for years, the excuse and justification for almost everything here. Until now, it is almost impossible to refute.

The Israeli general public, the media, and the country’s Supreme Court all fall into line “and salute”.

Apparently, this is so far published only on the Hebrew-language website of Haaretz — and not yet presented to the somewhat more sceptical English-language audience.

Silverstein reports, on his Tikun Olam posting, that “The Justice Ministry has begun an internal investigation and Jilani’s body has been exhumed and an autopsy will be done [n.b. – the autopsy is apparently complete, but results are not yet reported]. As part of the investigation, the murder scene and entire incident were reconstructed. During this event, the shooter admitted, according to Haaretz’s report (Hebrew), that he shot Jilani at point-blank range. He claimed, however, that he believed Jilani was a terrorist and killed him because he feared he was wearing a suicide vest. Further, he claimed he fired to protect the lives of innocent bystanders”.

Then, Silverstein notes: “There are a few problems with his account. First, by approaching Jilani so closely he could clearly see he was NOT wearing such a vest. Second, proper training for such an incident (and common sense) demand that an officer not approach a potential suicide bomber at close range so as not to be blown up if a detonation occurs. In other words, only a suicidal Israeli policeman would get that close to a potential bomber (or a policeman who knew the victim was NOT a bomber). Third, it should’ve been clear from Jilani’s two previous wounds (one in his back) that if he did have a suicide vest, these bullets would’ve detonated it. Fourth, no border policeman would care for the lives of the Palestinians living in Wadi Joz where the killing occurred. In fact, several residents went to Jilani’s assistance before he was killed and according to their accounts they were beaten by the police and shoved aside”.

Here is the picture posted on Silverstein’s blog, originally published by Ma’an News Agency, which shows the shots to the face that finished Ziad off after he was already wounded in his body:

Ziad Julani after being finished off at close range by Israeli Border Police - Maan photo via Richard Silverstein

Silverstein also states in his post that “However, and possibly unbeknownst to the authorities, there is footage they didn’t manage to get. I have not seen it yet. But I have been advised that it presents a powerful graphic and visual record of what really happened“.

This happened, apparently, just after Friday prayers, in a crowded area of Wadi Joz, in downtown East Jerusalem, as we reported earlier here. It is an area that has been almost completely subdued by a long military occupation.

It does not matter whether or not Ziad had a prior run-in with Israeli Border Police (in March, at Friday prayers on ther streets in East Jerusalem, when many were barred from entering the Old City to participate in worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque). It does not matter that he apparently hit some Israeli Border Police with his truck before he was pursued, wounded, and then finished off. It does not even matter, really, whether this was by accident — as is almost certain — or if it might have been deliberate.

What matters is the rule of law — or the lack of it — and respect for human life.

Ziad Julani should not have been murdered in cold blood when he could have been apprehended.

The Julani family lawyers — say that what happened was nothing more, nor less. than a traffic accident.  Witnesses have reported that Ziad did not see the Israeli Border Police he apparently injured.  He may have been doing a maneuver, or “backing up” — or trying to do a 180-degree turn on a narrow street to get out of a heavy congestion of slow-moving cars in order to go in the opposite direction, or turning to go and visit a friend or relative until the post-Friday-prayer rush-hour traffic thinned.

He may have then panicked, and run.

In human circumstances, he could also have been having a heart attack, or stroke, or any other kind of accident, when he lost control of his car — normally, a person should not be shot, and then finished off,  for that.

Reflecting on the explanation given by the Israeli Border Police shooter — that he believed Ziad was a “terrorist” — it is interesting to read these words published recently on the mondoweiss blog: “…many observers with an interest in justice for Palestinians take offense at the New York Times’ complicity in papering over the reality of Jewish terrorism. Yet here’s the irony: the effort to promote an unbiased use of the term ‘terrorism’ simply plays into the hands of the Israelis. The word has only one purpose: to forestall consideration of the political motivation for acts of violence. Invoke the word with the utmost gravity and then you can use your moral indignation and outrage to smother intelligent analysis”. This is posted here.

The author adds that “We live in an era in which ‘terrorism’ — as a phenomenon to be opposed — has become the primary bulwark through which Zionism [here, I might have written Israel] defends itself from scrutiny”.

Haaretz has recently published an opinion piece by Nimrod Aloni, entitled “Us, us and us”, in which he wrote: “…think about, even just as a theoretical exercise, our Palestinian neighbors, for the most part enemies for these 43 years, who every day see their children and parents shot, beaten and bloody, barely conscious and completely helpless, under our occupation. And if they are indeed human beings, in the intellectual spirit of conjecture, they bleed when shot, and they scream in pain when beaten and call out to be freed when imprisoned. And when they are treated with contempt they feel humiliated and miserable. So imagine how their hearts break, stomachs turn and rage boils as their desire for revenge fills their lives and daily routine. There is nothing new or revolutionary about this intellectual exercise. All it requires is a simple step away from a tribal mentality and family feeling toward a universal moral awareness, about which uncounted artistic, philosophical and religious texts have been written. In other words, to look at the other, even if he is a stranger or an enemy, as a human being in the full sense of the term, exactly like you and your near and dear ones. And here lies our big problem; here is where our process of barbarization begins. This fundamental human value of seeing others as human beings just like us is disappearing; some people even consider it a betrayal. From so much self-love and narcissism about the Land of Israel, the dogma of Israel and the Israeli people, we have sealed our eyes and ears and shut down our minds and consciences until we can no longer see or hear others. We can no longer be attentive to their point of view and give legitimacy to the logic of their claims and cultural narrative. We are so full of ourselves and so good at understanding our own arguments that others have become invisible; for us, there’s no one else but us. No one wants peace more than we do, the Israel Defense Forces is the most moral army in the world, and no one can investigate our actions better than we. As Jews it’s obvious that we’re allowed to settle everywhere; of course it’s our right to wipe out enemies in every country and on every continent, and anyone who denies this is nothing but an anti-Semitic non-Jew or a traitorous Jew consumed by self-hate … We don’t see others, especially the Palestinians, as human in the full sense of the word … we, the Israelis, seek more rights for ourselves than we grant others. One’s heart breaks over the insensitivity that’s having a field day here, and its many victims – ours and the others“. Nimrod Aloni is identified as “director of the Institute for Educational Thought at the Kibbutz Teachers College in Tel Aviv”, and his article is published here.

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