Contrary to Guardian claim, new video does not ‘confirm’ that Palestinian was shot in the back

Last week, a rock-throwing Palestinian, Mohammed Hani al-Kasbah, 17, was shot and killed by Col. Yisrael Shomer, the commanding officer of the Binyamin Brigade in the West Bank. The IDF said that the officer – who was traveling with his troops near Ramallah on July 3rd – felt his life was in danger after boulders and rocks were thrown, and he fired his weapon “according to procedure”.

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Vehicle of Col. Yisrael Shomer after being stoned by a Palestinian
Martyr's poster for Mohammed Hani al-Kasbah, 17
“Martyr” poster for Mohammed Hani al-Kasbah

However, while evidence – including witness testimony, medical records and a new B’tselem video – raises questions over the claims made by Col. Shomer that his life was in immediate danger, a Guardian report by Peter Beaumont on the new evidence grossly overstates what the video in fact demonstrates.

In Video raises doubts over account of Israeli officer who killed Palestinian teenager, July 13th, Beaumont features the following video.  (Put the video in full screen mode, and then pay attention to the top of the screen in the early moments of the clip.)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBfUrbJhkIc]

As you can see, the video shows Kasbah hurling rocks at the soldiers’ vehicle, the soldiers giving chase and aiming their weapons, and then the seconds before the Palestinian was actually shot.  The soldiers then can be seen returning to their vehicle. We don’t see Shomer firing his weapon, or what Kasbah was doing as he was shot.  

Indeed, Beaumont, in one passage, acknowledges this fact:

The footage – acquired by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem – was recorded by a security camera on a nearby petrol station and, although it does not show the moment of the lethal shooting itself, shows the preceding seconds.

Yet, Beaumont, a few passages later, makes the following leap:

The video confirms multiple witness accounts supplied to investigating journalists and human rights works workers – including medical evidence – that Kasbeh…was shot in the back.

The video certainly does not “confirm” that Kasbeh was shot in the back, as the video – per Beaumont’s own acknowledgement in the preceding passages – doesn’t show the actual shooting, only the “preceding seconds”.  We have no idea was Kasbeh was doing, or in what direction he was facing, the moment he was shot.  

The video may raise some doubts over Shomer’s testimony, but it does not disprove the officer’s claim that his life was in danger, nor does it prove that the 17-year-old Palestinian was shot in the back.

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