Jerusalem is carpeted with surveillance cameras, supposedly for the protection of Israeli civilians from “terrorists.” In some cases, it works instead to protect Israeli soldiers from charges of excessive force as they needlessly kill Palestinians.
by Kathryn Shihadah
The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported Thursday on video proof that Israeli police had killed a Palestinian man with a knife, shooting at him multiple times after he lay prone on the ground.
At the time of the incident, February 2020, the police released security camera footage from the vicinity, and described in detail what allegedly happened out of view – an account that justified their use of force.
Footage from other cameras captured the incident in full, but were not made public. Ha’aretz obtained these recordings, which told a story much different from the official narrative: it showed the police continuing to fire on the Palestinian man after he had been “neutralized.” Below is the video the Israeli police made public after the incident, followed by the video obtained by Ha’aretz.
Below, Maher Zaatra can be seen running with a knife in the Old City of Jerusalem, falling to the pavement with a gunshot wound, and then being shot multiple more times by at least four Israeli police officers at close range as he lay on the ground. (TRIGGER WARNING)
In article published the day of the incident, the police claimed Zaatra ran toward them shouting “Allah Akbar”; they responded by shooting at him from a distance of about thirteen feet. While the newest video has no sound, it clearly shows Zaatra backing up, not advancing.
According to Ha’aretz,
One policeman fired at least 12 shots from a pistol; the other, who was armed with a rifle, fired several more shots. Four other policemen arrived [and] some of them also fired at Zaatra. Even after he had fallen to the ground, the shooting continued.
Israel defended these actions, declaring, “They acted exactly as was expected of them in a scenario that poses a threat to their lives and those around them.”
An Israeli expert stated that while the police may have been justified in firing at Zaatra, once he was on the ground, they should have held their fire.
The thirty-five-year-old Zaatra suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, but had been receiving regular treatment.
Past incidents “not caught on tape”?
The recordings used in the early video came from a massive network of equipment scattered throughout the Old City. They are part of one of the most advanced surveillance systems in the world, with hundreds of cameras trained at many angles. Although the area of the shooting is covered by at least seven cameras, Israeli police claimed the shooting of Zaatra took place in an area not covered by the cameras – a “dead zone.”
Palestinians in the Old City have been “neutralized” out of view before; eyewitnesses have disputed official police narratives many times. This incident raises valid questions about the trustworthiness of other Israeli police accounts in which Palestinians have been killed, and the quick dismissal of conflicting versions.
When police spokespersons claim an incident took place in a dead zone, or on a day when the cameras were not working, or the tape did not show anything, might they be lying? MIght Israel be manufacturing narratives more convenient than the truth?
It wouldn’t be the first time (see links below).
Kathryn Shihadah is an editor and staff writer for If Americans Knew. She also blogs at Palestine Home.
FURTHER READING ON ISRAEL’S LIES
- The (almost) unbelievable story of an Israeli killer – and the lies that are protecting him
- Israel lies after soldiers choke and kill Palestinian boy
- Israeli Army’s Lies Can No Longer Salvage Its Image
- Israel arrests child with one-third of his skull missing, then lies about it
- The Six Day War and Israeli Lies: What I Saw at the CIA
- Bezalel Smotrich calls a lie “the biblical truth”
- Israel is hiding the truth about the killing of Ahmad Erekat