Israel initiates investigation following the emergence of videos depicting troops shooting Palestinians at close proximity in the West Bank.

Two men, one without weapons and the other already injured, lost their lives after being shot during a military raid on a refugee camp. Israel has announced the initiation of a military police investigation into the killing of two Palestinians in the West Bank. This comes after videos posted by an Israeli human rights group seemed to show Israeli troops killing the men, one of whom was disabled and the other unarmed, during the raid on the refugee camp in the West Bank.

The B’Tselem human rights group has accused the army of carrying out two “illegal executions.” Security camera videos reveal two Israeli military vehicles pursuing a group of Palestinians in the Faraa refugee camp in the northern West Bank. One man, who seems to be holding a red container, is shot down by the soldiers. This man has been identified as Rami Jundob, a 25-year-old. The military Jeep then approaches Jundob, who is lying on the ground and bleeding, and fires several shots at him until he is motionless. The soldiers later approach a man named Thaar Shahin, a 36-year-old who is reportedly unarmed, as he hides under the hood of a car. They shoot him from close range.

B’Tselem claims that Shahin died instantly while Jundob succumbed to his injuries the next day. Israel’s military has stated that its military police unit has initiated an investigation into the shooting incidents that took place on 8 December. They suspect that shots were fired unlawfully during the incident. The findings will be referred to a military prosecutor, which suggests that criminal charges might be filed.

Cases like these are seldom prosecuted in Israel, and even when wrongdoing is established, soldiers rarely face significant consequences, according to human rights groups. In a well-publicized case in 2016, an Israeli soldier was found guilty of manslaughter but served only a nine-month prison sentence for shooting a severely wounded Palestinian who was lying on the ground.

Recently, the army also launched an investigation into a soldier who shot and killed an Israeli man. The man had just killed a pair of Palestinian attackers at a bus stop in Jerusalem. Despite the fact that the soldier suspected the Israeli man was another attacker, the man knelt down, raised his hands, and opened his shirt to demonstrate that he posed no threat. The shooting highlighted what critics consider a widespread problem of excessive force by Israeli soldiers, police, and armed citizens against suspected Palestinian attackers.

In a separate incident on Friday, police announced that officers seen in a video beating up a Palestinian photojournalist in East Jerusalem have been suspended. The photojournalist, identified as Mustafa Haruf, works for the Turkish news agency Anadolu. The video shows one officer hitting Haruf with the butt of his gun, while another officer pushes him against a car. One officer points his gun at Haruf, and another officer puts him in a headlock and pulls him to the ground. On the ground, an officer kneels on Haruf’s body while another officer repeatedly kicks Haruf in the head. Onlookers are pushed back by other officers in shock.

The police, in a statement regarding the incident, declared that the conduct of these officers goes against the values of the force. The officers have been suspended, and an investigation is underway.

These incidents occur amidst heightened tensions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem caused by the war between Israel and Hamas. Israelis remain on high alert, expecting further attacks. Palestinian and human rights groups have long accused Israeli forces of using excessive force and evading accountability. Since the outbreak of the war, violence from Israeli forces and settlers in the West Bank has reached unprecedented levels. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, since 7 October, 287 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank. This is the highest annual death toll in the West Bank in 18 years.

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