Tony Greenstein | 08 September 2021 | Post Views:

Israelis Mourn as Border Police Sniper Barel Shmueli is Killed By Those He Tried to Kill

It isn’t often that we get good news from Palestine. Palestinians are celebrating the escape of 6 prisoners from the maximum security Gilboa prison. In Israel’s lexicon these prisoners have ‘blood on their hands’.

It is a phrase that wasn’t used to describe the Border Policeman who murdered, in cold blood, the autistic boy Iyad Hallak who died in a hail of bullets on 30 May 2020. Iyad was cowering in a garbage hut in East Jerusalem when the animal in uniform unleashed a volley of bullets as he whimpered on the floor with his carer screaming at them not to shoot and that he was disabled.

The pathetic excuse of his killer was that he mistook a mobile phone in his hand for a gun. It is strange that no Jewish children have ever been gunned down because their mobiles are mistaken for a gun.

We should remember that when Keir Starmer or his echo chamber Lisa Nandy tell us that sanctions on Israel is ‘anti-Semitic’. We should also remember it when the cowards of Labour’s ‘left’ – Momentum under Andrew Scattergood and the CLPD – hide in the corner, afraid to mention the word ‘anti-Semitism’ in case the wrath of the gods might descend on them.

These fools and cowards still have not got the message that ‘anti-Semitism’ is a weapon deployed to deflect support for the Palestinians and opposition to the racist movement that is called Zionism.

Iyad’s death struck me personally because I too have an autistic boy aged 32. He is a boy because although physically a man he has the mental age of a child. Yet I would not expect a British cop, even the finest specimen of the Metropolian Police, to gun him down because they had such bad eyesight that they couldn’t tell the difference between a mobile phone and a gun.

However we should be grateful that a year later the Border Pig that executed Iyad has been charged with ‘reckess manslaughter’ which carries a maximum of 12 years prison.

You can rest assured though that the Police Killer will not even serve a fraction of 12 years, even if he is found guilty. The Israeli Right will be baying about a cop being charged in the line of duty. Indeed even before charges are filed the excuses have begun:

Ha’aretz reports that his lawyers are already claiming that the police misconduct investigation unit’s “unfortunate decision” reflected a “serious mistake in judgment,” and a “complete lack of understanding” of operational matters by the unit.

And one can but have sympathy for them because if this prosecution goes ahead, other officers who  might kill more Palestinian children may be dissuaded ‘from acting in the future for fear of being prosecutedA situation in which an officer acts in good faith while on-duty and finds himself on the docket is an intolerable situation,” they continued. 

celebrating the escapes

Despite there being 10 CCTV cameras in the area where Iyad’s murder took place apparently none of them were working on the day. In Israel police investigators don’t even bother to hide or disguise how corrupt they are. Forced to file a minor manslaughter charge they were equally determined to ensure that the truth of this execution did not appear on film.

No doubt as the trial gets nearer, assuming it ever goes ahead, there will be right-wing demonstrations, portraits of the killer surrounded by his family and friends, testimonies to how he loves his children etc.

But if we had one piece of good news this week with the escape of 6 Palestinians from gaol there was also another piece of good news, also involving a member of the hated Border Police.

For the past 4 years Israel has deployed snipers along the border fence with Gaza to deal with demonstrators who get too close to the fence. Over 300 unarmed demonstrators have been murdered and thousands injured by illegal ammunition designed to cripple people. This includes 21 year old medic Razan al-Najar, murdered whilst tending to the wounded. If Russian or Chinese Police were to mow down unarmed demonstrators it would be front page news and on the BBC’s 24 hour rolling news cycle but of course it’s Israel and the least said the soonest mended.

the killer who was killed

Last week border guard police officer Barel Shmueli was in the process of shooting at unarmed demonstrators when a Palestinian fighter rushed to the scene and shot him through the very hole he had been using to shoot people through. Most people would say that what happened is justice but Prime Minister Bennett called him ‘‘a fighter in his life and a fighter in his death’.

What kind of state is it when those who kill civilians are lauded for their bravery? By these standards we should reevaluate the behaviour of the SS in Yugoslavia. This is what Israel has become. As Gideon Levy, one of the few Israeli columnists with a conscience wrote, in a week when the Israeli army killed 6 Palestinian civilians, including a 12 year old boy whose car was machine gunned by Israel’s bravest, the only killing which merited any coverage was that of Police killer Shmueli.

‘Behind all this is contempt for Palestinian lives. Nothing is valued less in Israel than the life of a Palestinian. Draw a straight line from the construction workers falling like flies to their death at building sites in Israel with nobody to care, to the unarmed protesters in the occupied territories fatally shot by soldiers while nobody bats an eye.’

And yet there are those who say, like the despicable Lisa Nandy, that to call Israel a racist state is anti-Semitic.

As Levy noted it is only permissible to shoot one way – from Israel into SS Gaza. To shoot the other way is ‘terrorism’.

When other countries’ armies fire at protesters, Israelis cluck with disapproval: What evil regimes these are. But when our army does this, it is not only pure, it is the victim. The ”terrorist” dared to shoot the sniper who came to shoot him. How barbaric, what savages they are in Gaza, we need to smash them with everything we’ve got. Just ask the people praying in the Soroka Hospital parking lot.

According to Shmueli’s mother, the reason for their son’s death is the fact that the present Israeli government coalition rests on the support of an Arab party, Ra’am. ‘If the prime minister sits with [Ra’am party leader Mansour] Abbas, it’s an assassination of Israel.’

Naturally Israel’s Labor Zionist President, Isaac Herzog paid his condolences to Shmueli’s family, and said: “Barel fell as a hero’. You would think Shmueli had fallen trying to take out a machine gun nest of an opposing army. He fell trying to wound and kill unarmed protestors. This is the brave Israeli army!

But we should not think that Gideon Levy is necessarily representative of Ha’aretz. Its Security Correspondent Amos Harel clucked that Palestinian Prison Break Could Embolden Terror Groups in West Bank and Gaza.

This comes after the attack on Gaza in May when 12 families were erased from the Earth. This followed Operation Protective Edge in 2014 when 142 Palestinian families were erased (742 people in total). As Amir Hass reported, these were not mistakes. These homes were deliberately targeted by an airforce which can precisely target a room in a block of flats. Israel holds the population registry of Gaza. It knows where each individual lives. Somewhere in Israeli military echelons a decision was taken to wipe out complete families. This is Nazi style behaviour from a state which claims the holocaust as its moral foundation. See Gaza Lives Erased: Israel Is Wiping Out Entire Palestinian Families on Purpose

Tony Greenstein

In Israel, the cold-blooded killing of Palestinians is met with silence

Scores of unarmed Palestinians, including children, have been murdered since the end of Israel’s May assault. Yet this is now so normal, the Israeli media and army barely mention it

Gideon Levy

Superficially, things are relatively quiet these days in the Israeli-occupied territories. There are no Israeli casualties, almost no attacks in the West Bank and certainly not inside Israel. Gaza has been quiet since the end of Israel’s latest offensive there, Operation Guardian of the Walls.

In the West Bank, the despair-inducing routine of daily life grinds on during this so-called period of quiet – which is precisely the irony crying out for our notice in this terrifying statistic: since May, more than 40 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank.

In a single week at the end of July, the Israeli military killed four Palestinians – one of them a child of 12. Two of the 40 were from one village, Beita, which lately has lost six of its residents; five were unarmed protesters, and one was a plumber reportedly summoned to fix a faucet somewhere. None of the four killed in late July posed any threat to the lives of any Israeli soldier or settler.

Using live ammunition against any of these people was prohibited, never mind aiming to kill, as did the Israeli soldiers who shot them. Four human beings or, if you prefer, 40 human beings, with families whose world was shattered, people with plans and dreams and loves, all suddenly ended by some young Israeli soldier so casually and so brutally.

In case all that is not enough, note this: the Israeli media hardly covered these killings. Neither of Israel’s two leading newspapers mentioned the killing of the 12-year-old boy in Beit Omar, between Bethlehem and Hebron, nor did either of the two most important commercial televisions stations bother to report it.

Put another way, the killing of a boy of 12, Mohammed al-Alami, who had been shopping with his father and sister when Israeli soldiers levelled a stream of bullets into the family’s car, killing the boy, who like his father had done nothing wrong – this was evidently deemed by some Israeli media a story of no importance and no interest.

Indifference to murder

There is no other way to explain this widespread inattention to an act of murder. Consider also that all those other murders since May were barely reported, never mind investigated, and you get a picture of Israel’s repression and denial of the occupation via the media’s version of “iron dome”, courtesy of the free press, in all its wretchedness. 

Protected by a silenced media, Israelis were spared this ugly picture of their army and its brutal modus operandi. Protected by that silence, denial and repression, even Israeli politicians and generals were not made to explain or even address the fact that rarely a week goes by in the occupied territories without Palestinian casualties, even during this relatively quiet period.

“If the soldiers were to shoot stray animals as casually as they shoot Palestinians, there would be public howls of outrage and the soldiers would be tried and severely punished”

Thus until a few days ago, no army commander had issued any criticism of the behaviour of these soldiers, let alone any mention of bringing charges or opening a serious investigation. Only after a series of articles and editorials in Haaretz did commander-in-chief Lieutenant-General Aviv Kochavi, viewed as a figure with moral standards, communicate a “request to lower the temperature”. Not an order; a request. No charges and no investigation, just a vague declaration of good intentions for the future.

Behind all this is contempt for Palestinian lives. Nothing is valued less in Israel than the life of a Palestinian. Draw a straight line from the construction workers falling like flies to their death at building sites in Israel with nobody to care, to the unarmed protesters in the occupied territories fatally shot by soldiers while nobody bats an eye.

One common factor unites them all: the conviction in Israel that Palestinian lives are cheap. If the soldiers were to shoot stray animals as casually as they shoot Palestinians, there would be public howls of outrage and the soldiers would be tried and severely punished. But they’re only killing Palestinians, so what’s the problem?

When an Israeli soldier shoots a Palestinian child in the head or a Palestinian teenager or demonstrator or plumber through the heart, Israeli society is mute and apathetic. It makes do with the flimsy explanations and sometimes outright lies provided by the army spokesperson, omitting any expression of moral qualms about the need to kill.

So many of these fatalities I have investigated and documented and written about in the newspaper have evoked no particular interest.

Death of a plumber

Shadi Omar Lotfi Salim, 41, a prosperous plumber who lived in Beita in the central West Bank, left home on the evening of 24 July, heading for the main road where the mains valve to the village’s water supply was located, after someone evidently discovered a problem there.

He parked his jeep alongside the road and walked back toward the valve, a red monkey wrench in his hand. It was 10:30pm. As he neared the valve, soldiers in the vicinity suddenly opened fire and fatally shot him. They later claimed that he had run toward them holding a metal bar. The only metal bar was the red monkey wrench left behind on the ground alongside his packet of cigarettes and a bloodstain, already dry when we got there a few days after his death.

Palestinians scatter after Israeli forces fired teargas during a protest against the Israeli outpost of Givat Eviatar in the village of Beita, north of the occupied West Bank, 13 August 2021 (AFP)

One week later in the same village, soldiers killed Imad Ali Dweikat, 37, a construction labourer, father of four young daughters and a two-month-old boy. This was during the village’s weekly Friday protest. Beita residents had been demonstrating weekly for the last two months or so against the establishment of a rogue outpost on village land. The settlement, Givat Eviatar, was erected unofficially, and then emptied of its residents by Israel – but the 40 structures rapidly built there were not demolished. The land has not been returned to its owners, who are not allowed to come near it.

Since Givat Eviatar was launched over 10 weeks ago, five Palestinian protesters have already been killed there by soldiers. None of the five was close enough to endanger the soldiers in any way, even as demonstrators were throwing stones and burning tyres to protest against the takeover of their land.

The residents are determined to continue resisting until their lands are returned to them, and meanwhile the blood flows, week after week.

Shot at random

Dweikat was drinking a glass of water when an Israeli sniper chose him, apparently at random, and shot him through the heart from a distance of several hundred metres. The bullet exploded inside his body, damaging his internal organs, and Dweikat died on the spot, blood pouring from his mouth. His baby boy, Ali, was made an orphan soon after his birth.

These deaths were all executions. There is no other way to describe them

A few weeks earlier, soldiers shot teenager Muhammad Munir al-Tamimi from another protesting village, Nabi Saleh, and killed him. Tamimi was 17 and became his small village’s fifth fatality in the last few years. Everyone in the community belongs to the Tamimi family and for years now they have been resisting the theft of their lands by the surrounding settlements.

These deaths were all executions. There is no other way to describe them. Shooting unarmed protesters, teenagers, children, a plumber, a construction labourer, people demonstrating publicly in the quest to regain their property and their freedom is a crime. There are very few regimes in this world where unarmed protesters are shot – apart from Israel, “the only democracy in the Middle East”, where the people’s peace of mind shows barely a tremor.

Even the grumbling heard here and there at the systematic killing has to do with whether it might lead to a deterioration in the situation overall. On the question of the legality and especially the morality of the murder of innocents, nobody says a word.

Israel is considered a democracy, a darling of the western world with similar western values. Forty unarmed civilians killed in the last two-and-a-half months, and four killed in the last week of July alone, are painful if mute testimony to the fact that while still viewed as a democracy, Israel is measured by a completely different yardstick than that applied to any other country.

Can We Worry Only About a Wounded Israeli Soldier, and Not the Victims in Gaza Too?

Gideon Levy

Is it permissible to look in another direction? Is it even possible? The grave injury of Border Policeman Barel Hadaria Shmueli has swept Israel into an almost unprecedented display of concern and media coverage, combined with moral blindness. His distraught father rebukes the country’s leaders, somebody records the harsh conversations and sends them to others, someone else rushes to publicize and make a big deal of them; a careful score is kept and a denunciation issued for anyone who took too long to visit or didn’t visit at all; the IDF chief of staff and government ministers sneak into the hospital by the back door lest the family’s angry accusations against them be made public, while mass prayers continue outside.

There is a ranking system for the wounded, too, in terms of public interest, just like for the fallen and for captives – on the basis of their identity, their affiliations and politics. There is Hadar Goldin and Shmueli and there are other families. Shmueli is not the first, and won’t be the last, to be seriously wounded. The pain of his family and friends is altogether human and understandable. Less so for all the rest.

Once again, at the Gaza border, things are turned upside down. The victim becomes the accused, the tyrant becomes the victim. Through the slit in the Gaza wall it is only permissible to shoot in one direction. Gunfire in the opposite direction is a crime for which the two million inhabitants of Gaza must be punished. Shmueli is a policeman and sniper who was brought to the fence to shoot protesters. By what moral criterion is it okay for an Israeli sniper to shoot protesters while a Palestinian is not permitted to shoot at those who are shooting at him?

When other countries’ armies fire at protesters, Israelis cluck with disapproval: What evil regimes these are. But when our army does this, it is not only pure, it is the victim. The ”terrorist” dared to shoot the sniper who came to shoot him. How barbaric, what savages they are in Gaza, we need to smash them with everything we’ve got. Just ask the people praying in the Soroka Hospital parking lot.

In Gaza there are more than 300 bereaved families from the previous wave of protests, at least 36 families who lost children that were killed by this accursed wall, and thousands of families with a wounded or disabled family member from the 27,000 who were wounded, 88 of whom lost limbs.

No one thinks about them. No one talks about the boy Omar. Is it permitted in Israel to worry about him? Is it permitted to think that he is the main victim? Or are we all Shmueli, only Shmueli?

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Tony Greenstein

1 Comment

  1. Leslie R Gray on 09/09/2021 at 7:40am

    For too long the British press has been bleating about supporting Israel because they re paid to by those with influence both within the Labour and conservative parties. The Jewish Cornicle should be banned in the UK for its blatant lies and Zionist propaganda. No true Jewish person living in the UK can support the Israeli regime in occupied Palestine. There is nothing racist in exposing Zionists as a scourge on peace in the middle east. Israel’s treatment of Palestine is the direct cause of 9/11 and Isis. Israel is a pariah state backed by the US and other Western states.

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