Three Israeli settlers in the West Bank murdered, thousands of Palestinians in Gaza punished

The Guardian reports: Israeli jets and helicopters launched dozens of air strikes across the Gaza Strip overnight on Monday, just hours after the bodies of three abducted Israeli teenagers were found in a shallow grave near the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

The air strikes, ostensibly in response to an ongoing barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel, came after the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, vowed the militant Islamist group Hamas, blamed by Israel for the kidnapping, would “pay a heavy price”.

The United Nations human rights office urged on Tuesday all Israelis and Palestinians to exercise “maximum restraint” as the tension across Israel and occupied Palestinian territory escalated.

Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16, who also had US citizenship, went missing while hitchhiking home from their religious schools in settlements on the West Bank on 12 June.

Their bodies were found by soldiers and volunteers in a valley covered with stones and brush on Monday afternoon.

The air strikes, which struck 34 locations in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip that Israel says were associated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, came as troops on the West Bank killed an 18 year-old Palestinian during a raid in Jenin. Israeli authorities claim the teenager was a Hamas member who threw an explosive device at Israeli soldiers.

In Hebron, meanwhile, it was reported that the Israeli military had blown up the houses of two Hamas members named by Israel as suspects in the abduction Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Eisheh – the first punitive house demolitions since Israel halted the practice in 2005. The two men disappeared from their homes shortly after the abduction and have not been arrested.

Sheera Frenkel reports: Israeli intelligence officials… remained divided over whether Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha…had direct ties to Hamas. The Qawasmeh family, one of the better-known families in Hebron, had recently distanced itself from Hamas.

“What we do know, is that this was likely an opportunistic move. The men behind this may have ties to a larger terror group, but this does not have the markings of a well-planned, complex operation,” one Israeli officer, based in the West Bank, told BuzzFeed earlier this month.

In Hebron, local residents who knew the families of the suspects expressed doubt that Hamas was responsible, especially after the Hamas’ senior leadership distanced itself from the kidnapping.

“That family, the Qawasmehs, often acted without the knowledge or signing-off of the senior Hamas leadership,” said Mahmoud Zabir, a Palestinian resident of Hebron who knows the family well. “They were considered troublemakers, even by Hamas.”

Shlomi Eldar adds: Each time Hamas had reached an understanding with Israel about a cease-fire or tahadiyeh (period of calm), at least one member of the family has been responsible for planning or initiating a suicide attack, and any understandings with Israel, achieved after considerable effort, were suddenly laid waste. If there is a single family throughout the PA territories whose actions can be blamed for Israel’s assassination of the political leadership of Hamas, it is the Qawasmeh family of Hebron.

As Alex Kane notes, while Isreal conducted its #BringBackOurBoys campaign, it already had strong evidence that the teens were already dead but through a media gag order, kept that information secret.

It was a bid to exploit the uncertainty about the youths and strike a blow against Hamas and the unity deal the Islamist movement struck with Fatah. In the process of the Israeli operation across the occupied West Bank, hundreds were arrested, at least five Palestinians were killed and the economy — especially Hebron’s — took a big hit.

Ma’an reports: Hamas is not interested in any confrontation with Israel, but if a confrontation is imposed, the movement is ready, says a spokesman of the Islamist movement.

Sami Abu Zuhri told Ma’an that “Hamas isn’t a superpower (ready) to fight a war against Israel, harming our people.”

Asked about the disappearance and killing of three Israeli teenagers, Abu Zuhri said there was only an Israeli version of the story which the occupation is trying to employ against Hamas and the Palestinian people.

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Footage of Palestinian boys being shot is genuine, says Israeli rights group

The Guardian reports: The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has concluded that footage capturing the moment two Palestinian teenagers were shot dead by Israeli soldiers despite posing no risk to them is “genuine and consistent”, contradicting Israeli army claims that the footage is likely to have been forged.

A short section of edited CCTV footage was released earlier this week showing Nadim Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Salameh, 16, being shot and killed. Since then Israeli military sources have been quoted anonymously on several occasions in the local media trying to undermine the tape’s credibility.

The two boys were killed on Thursday last week during a rally involving stone-throwing outside Ofer prison on the West Bank on “Nakba Day”, when Palestinians mark the mass displacement that occurred during the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948. [Continue reading...]

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Video prompts look at killing of Palestinian teens

The Associated Press reports: Security-camera video showing two unarmed Palestinians crumpling to the ground during a lull in a stone-throwing clash with Israeli soldiers revived allegations by human rights activists Tuesday that the troops often use excessive force.

The Israeli rights group B’Tselem said the images back its findings that troops killed the teens without cause by firing live rounds from more than 200 meters away. The soldiers were in “zero danger” at the time, said Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said, “It was a life-threatening situation, so the officers acted accordingly.”

He said he hadn’t seen the video, but alleged the images had been manipulated through editing.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a senior spokesman, said preliminary findings show forces fired only rubber-coated steel pellets, a standard means of crowd control, and did not use live fire.

The United Nations and the U.S. State Department called on the Israeli authorities to conduct a transparent investigation. [Continue reading...]

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Video: The Israeli army’s war against children in the West Bank

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Star Wars-style laser shield aims to protect all of Israel from short-range rockets

n13-iconThe Associated Press reports: An Israeli state-owned arms company developing a laser-based missile shield that evokes “Star Wars” style technology says its deployment over the country is closer to becoming a reality.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems said development of the system was advanced enough for the company to be comfortable with publicizing it at this week’s Singapore Airshow, which is Asia’s largest aerospace and defense exhibition.

The laser technology behind the missile shield called Iron Beam is not that far removed from fiction.

“It’s exactly like what you see in Star Wars,” said company spokesman Amit Zimmer. “You see the lasers go up so quickly like a flash and the target is finished.” [Continue reading...]

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Israeli commanders praise Hamas for maintaining ceasefire

The Washington Post reports: Just a year ago, Israel and the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers fought a lopsided eight-day war in the skies that the United Nations said left more than 160 Palestinians and six Israelis dead.

The period since last November’s cease-fire, though, has been the calmest between the two sides in more than a decade.

Israeli military commanders, although still wary of armed factions in Gaza, offer unexpected praise for Hamas, the Islamist militant and political organization that governs the enclave. Not only have Hamas and its armed military wing shown restraint, the Israeli commanders say, but they also have demonstrated that they can rein in the more radical factions, such as Islamic Jihad, that operate alongside them.

“Hamas was able to prove to us that it can control rocket fire from Gaza,” said Brig. Gen. Mickey Edelstein, commander of the Israeli military’s Gaza division. “This is an achievement.” [Continue reading...]

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Palestinian villages subject to Israeli mock raids not told they are exercises

The Guardian reports: Palestinian civilians are being embroiled in Israeli military training, including mock arrests, raids on private homes and incursions into villages, without being told they are involved in army exercises.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) defended the training exercises following complaints from an Israeli human rights group, Yesh Din, about two separate drills held earlier this year. In the first, a large number of troops in full combat gear spread out in a small Palestinian village for several hours, causing alarm and fear among its population. In the second, about 15 armed soldiers raided the house of a family while they were finishing their evening meal during Ramadan. In neither case were residents told that it was a training exercise.

The Palestinians caught up in training drills are not informed in advance that an arrest or raid is an exercise. According to the testimonies of former Israeli soldiers, civilians with no connection with militant activity are usually selected for such exercises. “We used houses, streets, people like cardboard practice targets,” said one. [Continue reading...]

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How close did Israel come to nuclear war in 1973?

Avner Cohen writes: week is the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, perhaps the most traumatic moment in Israel’s history. On Oct. 7, 1973 — the second day of the war — Israel’s borders along the Suez Canal in the south and the Golan Heights in the north collapsed under a massive assault by a coalition of Arab armies. Israel was caught unprepared.

The previous morning, Oct. 6, Moshe Dayan, Israel’s defense minister and a hero of the 1967 Six-Day War, had been so confident of Israel’s security that he’d opposed mobilizing the entirety of the reserve force, despite intelligence reports indicating that an Arab military offensive was imminent.

Just one day later, after visiting the front lines, Mr. Dayan was transformed into a prophet of doom. In a well-documented episode, he warned his generals of the demise of the “Third Temple,” a reference to the modern state of Israel. Mr. Dayan believed the country was fighting for its survival, and his mind turned to options of last resort. Israel’s nuclear arsenal, which first came into being on the eve of the 1967 war, had by 1973 grown to 10 or 20 atomic weapons. It was Israel’s ultimate insurance policy at a time of existential threat.

In the four decades since the 1973 war, rumors have blossomed that Israel stood at the nuclear brink during that war’s darkest hours. A number of journalists and scholars have asserted that during a dramatic meeting in one of the war’s early days, a panic-stricken Mr. Dayan persuaded the Israeli war cabinet, including the prime minister, Golda Meir, to arm the country’s weapons with warheads for possible use.

Some analysts have even claimed that Israel used this “nuclear alert” to blackmail the Nixon administration into providing Israel with a huge airlift of military supplies. Although these stories were based on anonymous sourcing and circumstantial evidence, they have become a central part of the lore surrounding the Yom Kippur War. Even my own early scholarship was to some degree influenced by this mythology. But in a January 2008 interview I conducted, Arnan Azaryahu, a senior aide to an Israeli cabinet minister at the time of the war, negated and refuted the nearly four-decade-old mythology alleging that Israel almost reached the nuclear brink in 1973. [Continue reading...]

See more interviews at The Avner Cohen Collection.

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Why Israel needs war

Israel is very attached to its US-funded Qualitative Military Edge. The idea is that Israel is uniquely vulnerable in a uniquely dangerous neighborhood and the only way it can guarantee its survival is by keeping technologically ahead of its enemies. But there’s another dimension to this that gets far less attention: Israel’s need to perpetuate a climate of war in order to sustain a demand for innovation among the customers of its lucrative arms industry. If regional and global peace were to ever break out, it would be a disaster to Israel’s economy.

At Wired, Amir Mizroch writes: Nano drones that an infantryman can pull out of his pocket; helicopters piloted by robots who extract wounded soldiers from the battlefield; micro satellites on demand; large spy balloons in the upper reaches of the stratosphere; virtual training with a helmet from your office; algorithms that resolve pilots’ ethical dilemmas (so they won’t have to deal with those pesky war crimes tribunals); and farming out code to a network of high school kids.

Since mid-2009, some 300 Israel Air Force officers have been brainstorming about the next steps for one of the world’s most advanced air forces, and the main pillar of Israel’s strategic power. This “IAF 2030″ project has just come to an end. Besides a standard press release issued by the military, little has been disclosed about it. Exclusive details are reported here for the first time.

The task of preparing the project was given to Major Nimrod Segev, head of the IAF’s long-term planning department. Segev divided his 300 officers into nine teams: Advanced Information Technology, Vast Data, Space, Cyber, Environment, Intelligence, Human Factor, Organizational Behavior, and a ‘Red Team,’ to challenge the other eight’s assumptions.

The participants were asked to think ahead — far ahead — something that doesn’t come easy in the military culture here, where long-term planning is almost unheard of. What changes would it have to make in weapons systems, platforms, technology, manpower, and organizational behavior to meet potential new threats? What new planes, guidance systems, and technology would they want? Let loose, the officers were told. Don’t worry about the how and the how much; just let your imaginations go. The air force even brought in Israel’s number one dreamer — President Shimon Peres — to fire their imaginations with a pep talk.

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‘Undercover Israeli combatants threw stones at IDF soldiers in West Bank’

Haaretz reports: Undercover soldiers hurled stones in the “general direction” of IDF soldiers as part of their activity to counter weekly demonstrations in the Palestinian village of Bil’in, the commander of the Israeli Prison Service’s elite “Masada” unit revealed during his recent testimony in the trial of MK Mohammed Barakeh (Hadash).

Barakeh has been charged with assaulting a border guard in Bil’in who was attempting to arrest a demonstrator.

Since 2005, the weekly protests against the separation barrier in Bil’in, which cuts the village off from much of its residents’ land, have attracted international attention as well as the participation of Israeli and international activists.

Several “Masada” fighters testified two weeks ago in Barakeh’s trial in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s court. The fighters testified from behind a curtain and their identity is to remain secret. The central witness was “Fighter 102,” an officer in “Masada,” who told the court that “we were sent to counter the disruptions at the separation barrier in Bil’in. It was the first time I was undercover. Two men were arrested, they were Palestinians.”

When quizzed by defense attorney Orna Kohn if the undercover soldiers hurled stones, “102″ answered that they did. When asked if he hurled stones toward IDF soldiers, he answered “in the general direction.”

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In a Palestinian village plagued by crime, a thin line runs between burglars and IDF soldiers

Haaretz reports: On March 23, in the middle of the night, an undercover force of the Duvdevan special-ops unit entered the prosperous and serene Palestinian village of Kafr Ramun, reportedly as part of a training exercise. Three brothers woke up, alarmed, thinking the men outside were thieves, and tried to chase them away with sticks and kitchen knives on the street. Without identifying themselves – the members of this unit operate in the guise of Arabs – the special-ops force fired 11 bullets at the brothers, continuing to shoot even after they were injured. One of the brothers was killed and the other two were severely wounded. The soldiers also kicked one of the brothers, and for a long time prevented all of them from receiving medical attention.

Army Radio initially reported that “terrorists” had tried to stab an Israel Defense Forces soldier; subsequently the IDF announced that the military Criminal Investigation Division would not be looking into the incident.

A few days ago the two surviving brothers were released from a hospital in Israel. They say they are planning to sue the IDF.

The incident would not have occurred if the undercover soldiers had identified themselves to the three men. It also would not have occurred had the IDF refrained from entering a quiet village like Ramun in the middle of the night, ostensibly in order to train among its houses. [Continue reading...]

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New video showing Lt. Col. Eisner’s multiple attacks on protesters

When video footage showing Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner slamming his rifle into Andreas Ias’ face first went viral, Eisner’s defenders were quick to dispute the evidence. A common refrain was that the clip lacked context, the assumption presumably being that if viewers saw more extended video then Eisner would be exonerated. Well, the context is now available and it turns out Eisner’s unprovoked attack on Ias was one of several caught on video. No wonder the IDF and Israeli government were swift to dismiss the officer rather than dig themselves into a deeper hole trying to defend the indefensible.

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Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner represents the Israel Defense Forces

Haaretz reports: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday condemned the beating of a pro-Palestinian activist by a senior IDF officer, which was seen in a film posted on YouTube earlier Sunday.

“Such behavior does not characterize IDF soldiers and officers and has no place in the Israel Defense Forces and in the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz also commented on the incident in which a senior officer was filmed hitting a leftist activist in the face with an M-16 rifle, saying he sees the incident as very grave.

“The incident does not reflect IDF principles and will be thoroughly investigated,” Gantz said.

On Saturday, a group of some 250 activists, mostly Palestinian youths from the West Bank, went on a bike ride in the Jordan Valley in a silent protest. At a certain point, several dozens of IDF soldiers stopped the activists, and events quickly escalated into a confrontation. IDF soldiers hit the activists and threw their bikes over a tunnel across the road.

In the video, which was posted by the International Solidarity Movement on YouTube on Sunday, Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner is seen beating youths who took part in a pro-Palestinian bike ride in the Jordan Valley.

One of the volunteers who organized the bike ride said that the soldiers were waiting for the activists and began clashing with them.

Lt.-Col. Eisner was filmed hitting one of the activists in the face with his M-16.

“We did not expect any harassment on the part of the Israeli soldiers, we just came for fun,” one of activists told Haaretz. “I tried to talk to them, to say that we only want to enjoy the beautiful road and the Jordan Valley in the springtime, but we were unsuccessful. The activists were beaten badly, and the officers just told us we couldn’t be in that area.”

Four activists who sustained wounds on their faces and backs were evacuated to a hospital in Jericho, while three more youths who were beaten refused to receive medical care.

Eisner recounted his version of events, and said that the youth that he beat had hit him beforehand, and even broke two of his fingers. He said that the incident lasted two hours, and that the activists were trying to block a road in the Jordan Valley.

Eisner claimed that he carried out his job after two hours of trying to stop lawbreakers.

Palestinian media reported on Saturday on the events that took place during the bike ride. After the video was posted Sunday and showed testimony of what transpired, GOC Central Command Nitzan Alon ordered the IDF to investigate the matter.

As Israel’s top officials try to portray Eisner’s assault as an aberration, it’s worth noting how the incident was treated on Nablus TV which first aired the footage on Saturday.

The attack was only shown midway through their report. For the Palestinian reporters this was just one more example of Israeli brutality that is far from exceptional.

As painful as it must have been for the young Danish activist to have an M-16 slammed in his face, this particular incident is unfortunately relatively minor in the history of the institutionalized violence which provides the foundation for Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.

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Video: Palestinian on hunger strike “in mortal danger”

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Escalation is good for Israel

Zvi Bar’el writes: Advocates of a strike on Iran couldn’t have hoped for a more convincing performance than the current exchange of fire between Israel and Gaza. “A million Israelis under fire” is only a taste of what is expected when Iran’s nuclear project is completed. When that happens, seven million Israelis will be under the threat of fire and nuclear fallout.

This is what happens when “only” the Islamic Jihad fires Grad rockets, when Hamas stays out of the fight, and when the “miraculous system” that prevents missiles from falling on kindergartens still works. Under the threat of a nuclear Iran, miracles won’t help, and people in Tel Aviv will also be forced to hide in bomb shelters or escape to Eilat.

Here’s the proof: There is no alternative to striking Iran and there is no better time than the present, when the weather permits and world diplomacy is preoccupied with Syria. For Israelis, there is no better proof that no harm will come to them as a result of an attack on Iran than the performance of the Iron Dome anti-rocket system, which has demonstrated a 95% rate of effectiveness. The escalation in Gaza is good for Israel – that is, for that part of Israel that wants to strike Iran.

It is hard to understand what basis there is for the assertion that Israel is not striving to escalate the situation. One could assume that an armed response by the Popular Resistance Committees or Islamic Jihad to Israel’s targeted assassination was taken into account. But did anyone weigh the possibility that the violent reaction could lead to a greater number of Israeli casualties than any terrorist attack that Zuhair al-Qaisi, the secretary-general of the Popular Resistance Committees, could have carried out?

In the absence of a clear answer to that question, one may assume that those who decided to assassinate al-Qaisi once again relied on the “measured response” strategy, in which an Israeli strike draws a reaction, which draws an Israeli counter-reaction. Everything is proportionate, and Israel controls the height of the flames, while proclaiming that “Israel does not seek to escalate the situation.”

Is that so?

And what IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz’s statement a few weeks ago that there will be no alternative to a large-scale operation in Gaza? And what if the Islamic Jihad does not adopt the Israeli strategy and stop firing? Will Gantz’s threat finally materialize, catapulting Israel into a “Cast Lead Two” scenario?

Unlike Israel, Hamas has an understandable interest in putting an end to the escalation, which caught it off guard. The organization is mired in an internal political struggle. After fleeing Syria, its leadership is looking for a new home. The dialogue with Fatah has yet to produce an agreement on a unity government, and its ideological side must deal with the willingness of the Muslim Brotherhood, its ideological umbrella organization, to carry on a dialogue with the U.S. and respect the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.

Hamas, while it does not fully control the activities of all of the organizations in Gaza, has managed to secure important agreements with most of them, including the Islamic Jihad, which has joined the effort to reconcile with Fatah. Hamas is also dependant on Egypt regarding the passage of civilians through the Rafah Crossing and merchandise through the network of tunnels between the two territories, as well as for the fuel that enables it to provide Gazans with electricity. Even if its leadership was still located in Damascus, Hamas cannot disconnect itself from Egypt and remains shackled to its foreign policy toward Israel.

This dependence on Egypt has managed in the past to produce extended ceasefires which have proven themselves in recent months, especially after the signing of the reconciliation agreement with Fatah, which produced Khaled Meshal’s declarations that Hamas would restrict itself to nonviolent forms of struggle against Israel.

However, it seems that the change in Hamas not only hasn’t convinced Israel, but even stands in the way of its “no partner” policy and could sabotage its efforts to head off the creation of a Palestinian unity government, which would lead to renewed efforts at the UN to secure an independent Palestinian state.

Thus, Hamas must be dragged toward military activity against Israel, and nothing is easier, at least in Israel’s estimation, than to launch a “unilateral” attack against a wanted non-Hamas man, to wait for the response to come, and hope that Hamas joins in.

So far, it hasn’t happened. Hamas still prefers the diplomatic channel and has carried on intensive diplomatic contacts over the past two days with Egypt’s Supreme Military Council. Israel apparently needs to wait for another opportunity. Meanwhile, however, it has already managed to turn the attention of Arab diplomacy away from Syria and toward the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

Assad must be pleased.

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How Israelis tried to kill Anthony Shadid in 2002

David Kindred writes: Until the Israeli sniper shot him, it had been a good day. Shadid’s notebook was full because he had been eyewitness to a drama that was a perfect metaphor for the latest Israel-Palestine war. He started a long walk back to the hotel. There he would write for his newspaper, The Boston Globe. He was looking at his notes when he realized that his body was falling. He was halfway to the ground before he heard the gunshot.

It was March 31, 2002. Shadid remembered the sky over Ramallah as cemetery gray. Once the bustling hub of a new Palestine, the city was cloaked in silence. War in its third day had emptied the streets. That day, as on all days, Shadid was driven by a reporter’s questions: Why? How do I put the pieces of the puzzle together? Here in Ramallah, why did Israel’s army wage war against civilians when the nation’s prime minister said the objective was to eliminate a’ “terrorist infrastructure”?

Shadid had gone to Ramallah Hospital to interview doctors, nurses, ambulances drivers, and humanitarian workers. He wanted to talk to people who had found themselves in harm’s way by leading their everyday lives. As he arrived, so did the roar of war. A tank rolled up, and two armored personnel carriers unloaded soldiers. The soldiers rushed toward the hospital with rifles leveled on people who had come outside. Someone said, “This is a hospital!” The soldiers, seemingly in search of an enemy, shouted, “Everyone back, everybody inside!”

Shadid saw it all. The scene spoke to the asymmetry of the conflict Here were doctors in white smocks facing soldiers with M-16s. As an Israeli lieutenant talked to the hospital chief, Shadid listened. In their confrontation, he saw the war. The lieutenant was an army that had to search among civilians for the enemy. The hospital chief was Ramallah, powerless against power.

“The doctor and this Israeli were face-to-face and they were yelling at each other,” Shadid said. “I’m standing right next to them. And I’m writing down every word. This was one of those moments. Through it, I could tell the entire story of this fifty-year conflict. I was so excited. This is it. You could see how the entire story would be structured. So excited.”

When a peaceful compromise was made, Shadid headed back to his hotel with a colleague, Said al-Ghazali. They walked in the middle of the street lest they raise suspicion by moving along walls. Both wore white flak jackets marked on the back with red-taped “TV,” the best-known symbol for international press. He had his notebook in his hands, flipping pages to read notes.

Then he was falling before he heard the gunshot. “It was deafening, like they shot next to my ear,” he said. “Probably twenty-five feet away.” On the street, he couldn’t move. He first thought someone had thrown a stun grenade, a weapon that momentarily paralyzes its target. Then he felt pain on his spine. “Said,” he said to his friend, “I think I was shot.”

Al-Ghazali was down on the pavement with Shadid, searching for blood. “I don’t see anything,” he said. Shadid now reached behind his flak jacket and brought back a bloody hand. He thought to tell his wife and infant daughter good-bye. He thought of ambulances that couldn’t move on Ramallah’s streets. He also thought, “I’ll die if I wait for help.”

Al-Ghazali carried him twenty yards before they fell. “Journalists!” Al-Ghazali shouted. “Help! Bring us a car!” There was no one in the street, no one could hear them, no one except perhaps the Israeli who shot him. Shadid thought that man might now be watching him struggle toward a vehicle in the street ahead.

“He’s wounded!” al-Ghazali shouted.

An Israeli said, “Show us!”

Al-Ghazali turned Shadid so the soldier could see the white flak jacket red with blood. The bullet had passed through Shadid’s left shoulder, sheared off part of a spinal column vertebra, and burst through his right shoulder, a classic M-16 wound: tiny on entry, huge on exit. Twelve pieces of shrapnel remained inside the reporter’s back. In his Boston apartment years later, I asked Shadid, “Did the guy intend to shoot you?”

“There were rumors that Palestinians were posing as Red Cross workers and journalists. I don’t think if they knew I was an American journalist that I’d have been shot. They might have, who knows? They can be rough on journalists. I think they wanted to teach a lesson. ‘Here’s what we’re going to do to people acting as journalists.’”

“God,” I said.

“A cold-blooded execution.”

“From point-blank range,” I said.

“They were looking to kill me. Crazy, but reading my notes may have saved my life. I think they were aiming at my head, and I moved my head down looking at my notes.”

“The M-16 wound makes you sure an Israeli did it?”

“Yes. And the Israelis were in complete control of that area that day.”

He could have been dead. He could have been paralyzed. Instead, he was in a Ramallah hospital away from the one he had visited that day. From his bed, he called Boston and told his editor what happened. He also said, “I got this great story. I think I can still write it.” And the editor said, “If you think you can do it, we’ll take it.” Before Shadid could get his laptop, common sense, in league with morphine, prevailed against the idea. Besides, he hadn’t been in the hospital an hour before here came more Israeli soldiers, guns drawn, entering his room and shouting something in Hebrew, a language he did not understand. He said, “Back off. I’m an American journalist.” They answered, “Get your hands up”—as if he could. He was mummified in bandages around his chest and shoulders. He raised his forearms.

Later that night, an Israeli army officer stopped by. “If we shot you,” he said, “I apologize on behalf of the army.” Then he shrugged. “But you know, you were in a war zone.” [Continue reading...]

(H/t Mondoweiss)

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