Last year I wrote about Israel's claim that it has the most moral army in the world. A video from a October 7 showing how the IDF handled stone throwing Palestinians now prompts me to re-examine that claim. Actually, I should modify my statement that the stone throwers were Palestinian. Some of them were actually undercover IDF or border police officers. It is impossible to tell from these videos whether the IDF/border police officers instigated the stone throwing or were merely blending in with a crowd of Palestinians who were already throwing stones. In either case, watch as an undercover soldier shoots a Palestinian in the leg as he is is being restrained by two fellow officers.
There is another video of the same scene taken from a separate angle. I'm having trouble embedding it so you will have to watch it on YouTube.
In 2012 Haaretz newspaper reported (Hebrew link) that the commanding officer of an undercover unit confirmed it was their practice to have plainclothes agents infiltrate Palestinian demonstrations and throw stones in the direction of soldiers while encouraging the Palestinian youth to follow suit, and then arrest them for throwing stones.
Ali Abunimah at Electronic Intifada also provides an in-depth analysis of these videos as well as two others that is well worth reading.
Of course, Israeli apologists either dismissed the videos as fake or excused them by saying that Palestinians/Muslims are so bloodthirsty that people should be spending more time reporting on their atrocities instead of showing videos of this non-lethal encounter. Goldman wrote the next day
An astonishing number of people looked at all this evidence and refused to believe what they saw. And they were upset with the messenger, too. Yesterday +972 editor Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man and I were inundated with testy emails and social media messages from people who demanded additional evidence proving the undercover agent had really pulled the trigger and shot the boy.
The multiple witnesses, the videos and the photographs were not enough. Some claimed they did not hear the gun being discharged. Others claimed they saw the Palestinian youth walking after he’d supposedly been shot, which proved that the undercover officer had not really pulled the trigger. On Facebook, there were long threads of comments claiming the video was fabricated, a “Pallywood” production.
How do we know the masked men were really undercover soldiers or police officers and not really Palestinians? First, common sense tells you that if they had been Palestinians, the IDF officers would have turned their guns on them. Second, Reuters reporter Luke Baker tweeted that he saw the masked men cooperating with the Israeli soldiers.
@zpyarom I've been watching them operating. The undercover units ran back to Israeli troops and drew their weapons to fight back
— Luke Baker (@LukeReuters) October 7, 2015
Third, there is a YouTube Channel called Israeli Power that looks like it is probably run by the IDF, a propaganda unit within the Israeli government, or a big supporter of Israel. Amongst other things, the channel features numerous videos of the IDF and border police training. One of those videos celebrates the achievements of undercover Mitzarvim, a unit that uses tactics very similar to the ones displayed in the video above.
Fourth, the Israeli army did not deny that they did indeed shoot a Palestinian during the incident. Their spokesperson's office wrote:
In events of this type, in which soldiers operate in life threatening situations and in which a Palestinian mob is inflamed, special methods of operation are used. In this incident a violent confrontation broke out between the undercover troops and the central inciter, during which a bullet was fired into his leg. The [Israeli army] force was attacked with a barrage of stones that endangered it and was therefore forced to evacuate the area as quickly as possible. It was an accurate shot that disabled the central suspect who fought back even after the soldiers attempted to arrest him. The suspect was lightly wounded and was treated by soldiers.
Lisa Goldman nailed it on the head when she entitled her highly recommended follow-up column "When people can't believe their eyes, it's usually ideology".
Finally, I leave you with an invitation to watch this video by former Israeli soldier Eran Efrati. The video is 40 minutes long, but Efrati is a fascinating speaker and I promise you, the time will fly. You don't have to believe everything he says. His conclusion that Israeli soldiers instigate riots in the West Bank so that they can test out new weapons on Palestinians before selling them to dictators around the world is a bit of a leap. Carl Sagan often said, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", and I don't think Efrati has presented us with that evidence. It is quite possible that Efrati added up 2 + 2 and got 5. Nonetheless, his personal experience is worth listening to. If even half of what he claims is true then it will have you questioning just how moral the Israeli army really is.
Israel does not have the least moral army in the world. It's not even close. But the most moral army in the world??? My ass.
1) Israeli border police pepper spray Palestinian journalists for no good reason. (watch the video.)
2) The Israeli border police threaten to gas a Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem.
People of Aida refugee camp, we are the occupation army. If you throw stones, we will hit you with gas until you all die - the youth, the children, the old people, you will all die.
Now, you might be surprised that they referred to themselves as an "occupation army". Even the Palestinians who were there were surprised that they referred to themselves that way. In fact, if you are an Israeli apologist you might accuse this video of being a "Pallywood" fake. But the Times of Israel confirmed the authenticity of the video and reported that the border police officer who threatened the Palestinians was suspended. Now, I don't know whether he was suspended because he threatened innocent Palestinians or whether he was suspended because he admitted he was part of an "occupational army". What I do know is had this not been caught on video, he would not have been suspended. How many other outrageous acts have the IDF and the border police perpetrated that have not been caught on video?