Israeli sniper films shooting of unarmed Palestinian through rifle scope– and celebrates

A video clip in which an Israeli sniper filmed himself shooting an unarmed Palestinian across the Gaza fence and then celebrating drew international outrage last night. The two Palestinian targets in the video appear simply to be walking around near the fence.

In sharing the video, Jewish Voice for Peace says the shooting took place last week:

An IDF soldier filmed himself shooting at unarmed Palestinian protesters on Gaza border this last Friday and then celebrating with his friends saying “Take that sons of bitches.” The IDF has responded that it will investigate

The New York Times has also covered it, honestly, saying the video shows “Israeli troops shooting a Palestinian man across the border fence at a time when he posed no obvious threat — and then rejoicing.”

Yesterday the Israeli army suggested that the video was taken months ago, but as the Times observed, the timing is not important. It quotes B’tselem, the human rights organization:

“Incidents such as the one in the video published today occurred hundreds of times over the past few weeks in the Gaza Strip, causing death and injuries — with the full support of policymakers and top military officials,” Btselem, an Israeli human rights organization, said in a statement. “Btselem is deeply sorrowed by the manifestly illegal commands ordering soldiers to shoot at people who pose no threat.”

The Times also quoted Breaking the Silence, the Israeli soldiers group, saying this isn’t just a few weeks old, it’s 51 years old, a reference to the occupation.

The essentials of the talk in the clip:

There appears to be a discussion with a commander in the background about which Palestinian the sniper should get. All of the figures seem to be standing rather motionless. The commander seems to be saying “take the pink one”, and a sniper answers “not the pink, the blue”. Immediately after a shot is fired (0:39).

The sniper shouts “wow, what a clip, YES!!!!”.

His comrade is in awe – “wow, wow”.

The sniper continues: “Son of a whore!”

Comrades: “did you film it?”

Sniper: “Look, now they’re coming to evacuate him – of course I filmed it!”

Comrade: “Wow, someone’s head was hit!”

Sniper: “What a clip, it’s a dream!” Another comrade: “I didn’t see it, bro!”

Comrade: “Did you see how he flew in the air with his leg like that!”

Sniper: “Take that, you sons of whores!”

Late yesterday in response to the clip, the IDF said: “Concerning the clip – apparently this concerns a case that occurred a few months ago. The case will be investigated and checked thoroughly” (cited by Channel 10 military correspondent Or Heller).

Think about it – the army promised to ‘investigate’. What will it investigate? This practice is completely in line with what B’tselem has been warning about – permission to open fire on anyone within 300 meters of fence. What could the army possibly charge the soldiers with? Celebrating the very acts for which the Defense Minister wants to reward with medals?

Here is Breaking the Silence’s statement on the shooting:

Over the past two weeks, Israeli snipers were ordered to “shoot to kill” targeted unarmed demonstrators in Gaza, killing dozens and injuring hundreds. A video released last night depicts a soldier targeting and shooting an unarmed demonstrator who posed no direct threat. Firing live ammunition at unarmed demonstrators marks the transgression of yet another red line.

Whether this video was filmed a month or a week ago, as those who served in the occupied territories, we know – over 50 years of occupation have resulted in moral corruption to the degree to which unarmed innocent demonstrators are now being killed.

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