On May 18 in Huwara near Nablus there was an incident where an Israeli settler shot one Palestinian dead and an AP camera operator/reporter in the wrist. One report in the Israeli paper Ha’aretz had this headline: “Settler Defends Killing of Palestinian: They Almost Lynched Me.” The sub-headline was: “The settler was driving near Nablus in West Bank when his car was hit by stone throwers. He opened fire, killing one man, wounding another. Police say he’s not a criminal suspect.” In its story the Israeli site Y-News says “some 200 Palestinian rioters pelted the car of a settler.” The New York Times story seems based on the Ha’aretz article.
The headlines give a completely false idea of what happened. We’ll start with a second by second look at four videos of the incident, two that were included along with the Ha’aretz article. In the first video called “18.05.17” on the Ha’aretz channel the first 9 seconds shows a demonstration in the street, cars solid on one side of the street, and cars being held up by protesters on the other side. An ambulance moves into the street. During that time there’s no evidence of stones being thrown or anything else. Then the settler car takes off and upends two or three people, pauses a second or two and hits the ambulance (at 0:13). People start kicking the car. There doesn’t appear to be any stone throwing at this point. The ambulance driver gets out of the car and walks around it as if to talk to the person who hit him. At 0:23 people drift away from the back of the car just as an Israeli military vehicle pulls up at 0:29. There’s smoke at :37. At 0:44 a stone is clearly thrown.
Ha’aretz also included a video from the “Palestine Today” channel showing people rallying. Around 0:35 it then cuts away from the other side of the street to a close up of the car with people kicking it for a while. Then at 0:40 there’s a cut to the military vehicle next to the settler’s car. The car is not surrounded. Few people are near it. Smoke from the side of the street starts to get near the jeep and the car. A man carrying a flag appears at 0:43 and you can see him until he runs down the street and is gone at 1:01. At 0:49 a rock is thrown at the car or the jeep. At 0:51 you see a form moving quickly inside the car holding something. At :54 the large hole in the back window appears. The car had not been surrounded. As the camera pulls back some 10 or 15 feet behind the car is empty. At 1:36 the ambulance moves away At 1:44 the settler’s car drives away.
Another video called “CCTV footage of protest in Huwara, May 18, 2017″ shows the run up to the incident a little more clearly. It appears to be people watching the footage on a screen some time after the incident. The video starts with a crowd and with people in front of the car, but again no stone throwing. At 1:30 the settler starts driving and runs into the people in the street. People kick the car for a while and then withdraw. At 1:53 people watching the video point out the man who is later killed. He’s 15-20 feet away from the car with his back to the car. At 3:04 the car leaves and there are 3 or 4 stones on the street where the car had been.
TSVN’s video called “Huwara 2017-05-18 5/24 settler kills demonstrator” starts just before the military vehicle pulls up at 0:06. At 0:27 a cloud of smoke appears near the camera and moves toward the street. At 0:36 a man in a white shirt carrying a flag runs between the jeep and the camera. At 0:50 someone throws a stone, apparently at the front windshield of the car. You can’t see the back of the settler’s car in the video. The settler must have been shot the Palestinians somewhere between 0:27 and 0:35 in this video. It happened after the smoke started to spread and wouldn’t be later than 0:35 because then the man with the white shirt runs by.
The jeep just leaves. There’s no attempt to get other soldiers, cordon off the area or most importantly to take away the gun from the man who had just committed the homicide
In addition to the video we have the words of eyewitness Abraham Weizfeld who took one of the videos and whom I interviewed on May 26 by Skype. He took part in the demonstration. He said the demonstrators were mostly middle aged. The leaders did not want young people who he described as more volatile. He denied there was any stone throwing before the settler drove into people. Weizfeld said that once the settler had hit people and crashed into the ambulance some stones were thrown but denied the settler’s car was ever surrounded. He says the man who was shot dead was quite a distance away and was not even in the street.
Palestinian sources say the man killed was named Muataz Bani Shamsa. He was 23
Here’s what I conclude:
Palestinians were in the street, but neither the settler’s car nor any other car was being stoned. The settler created the incident. He was stopped by the demonstration. For some reason the settler starts driving and hits several people who were standing just in front of him, pauses a second or two and then crashes in to the ambulance. An Israeli military vehicle pulls up 16 seconds later. The settler’s car is not surrounded. Possibly one stone is thrown at the settler’s car before he starts shooting. Between 22 and 30 seconds after the army vehicle arrives the settler shoots out his back window and kills one and wounds one. A stone does hit his front windshield some 15 seconds later.
To add insult to injury the “Jewish Press” reports the Palestinian ambulance driver had been arrested and the ambulance impounded. This far right wing American paper claimed the arrest occurred because the driver “intentionally parked the ambulance during the lynch in a way to prevent the Israeli driver from being able to escape the terror attack.” Y-Net News says the same in it a bit less colorful language. Actually it’s clear from the videos that the ambulance had started moving into the road before the incident, before the settler’s car lurched forward and knocked over the Palestinians. Probably the driver was just trying to make his way around the demonstration, but by the time the prisons are through with him, he’ll probably confess to shooting Lincoln.
Several Palestinians were arrested for alleged stone throwing. As Ha’aretz says, the shooter is not being investigated for a criminal offense and now a good portion of Israeli Jews have heard a plausible and completely wrong explanation of how and why a Palestinian was killed.