Last Friday, Mustafa Tamimi was shot dead by the Israeli army in his village of Nabi Saleh. I described the horror of his shooting in a real time diary based on tweets from witnesses in Nabi Saleh. The murder of Mustafa Tamimi was captured in graphic video and photographic evidence taken by Israeli and Palestinian activists on the scene. A gripping account of Mustafa's death can be read on the New York Times' blog, The Lede.
As the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reports, Israel’s military has opened an investigation into the fatal shooting of a Palestinian protester whose skull was crushed by a tear gas shell fired from an Israeli armored vehicle in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on Friday.
The death of Mustafa Tamimi, 28, was the first fatality in two years of weekly demonstrations in Nabi Saleh, where villagers gather every Friday to demand access to a natural spring on village land that was seized by Israeli settlers who live nearby. The demonstrations usually end in clashes, with Israeli officers firing tear gas and stun grenades to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the spring, and Palestinians hurling rocks.
As The Lede explained in June, the weekly demonstrations in Nabi Saleh are frequently documented on video and in photographs by Israeli and Palestinian activists who want to promote the model of civil disobedience as an alternative to armed conflict. It is also increasingly common for clashes at demonstrations across the West Bank to be reported on in real time by activists using Twitter.
On Friday night, as Mr. Tamimi fought for his life in an Israeli hospital, Israeli and Palestinian activists who oppose the continued occupation of the West Bank by Israel shared dramatic photographs of the shooting that appeared to show the tear gas shell in midflight, an instant after it left the barrel of the gun. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem also posted very graphic video on YouTube that showed the frantic rush to save the wounded man. (Be warned: the video, recorded moments after the shooting, shows the man’s wounded face in graphic detail.)
There is very little PR that an army can conduct to explain how a young man posing no mortal threat to the army was shot at point blank range with a high velocity tear gas canister. However, an Israeli army spokesperson, Maj. Peter Lerner, thought this tweet might be helpful:
How's that for mockery? I wish Newt Gringrich were right, that we Palestinians are imaginary beings. Then we wouldn't be shaking with sorrow and rage right now for Mustafa Tamimi. I can think about nothing else but about him, his grieving family and his village.
May he rest in eternal peace. And may his death lead to more awareness about the barbarity of the Israeli occupation.