Despite killing hundreds of protesters, only one Israeli soldier has been indicted for these murders.
Palestinians in Gaza have been holding weekly protests almost every single weekend since March 2018, in a defiant stance against Israel’s continued abuses against both the people and the land of Palestine. Since then, Israel has killed more than 222 demonstrators, with 45 of those killed minors, 28 of them children under the age of 16, and most who were peacefully protesting with no immediate threat to the heavily armed Israeli soldiers. More than 8,000 Palestinians have been injured with live fire as well.
One young boy, Othman Hiles, was 14 years old when he was shot and killed by Israeli forces. He reportedly touched the barbed-wire fence separating them and the Israeli forces, and then was shot in the heart when he lifted his foot in a possible attempt to climb the fence. Hiles was completely unarmed and had made no move to seriously threaten the armed Israeli security forces. Another example of these horrifying extrajudicial killings was when 16 year old Ahmad Abu Tyour was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers for simply throwing a stone.
In a farcical attempt on Israel’s side to put to trial soldiers who were involved in the shooting of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators, the soldier who shot and killed Hiles was given a month’s worth of community service. The Israeli Military Advocate General Sharon Afek has ordered an investigation into the deaths of 11 Palestinians – an insultingly low number in comparison to the actual number of those killed while demonstrating unarmed. Many of these investigations are revolving around the deaths of Palestinians who received relatively high media coverage from around the world, such as the paramedic Razan Al-Najjar and teenager Muhammad Ayoub.
Ever since Othman was killed, I’ve watched the footage over and over, asking myself, ‘What did he do that was so terrible?’ I watch the video and cry my heart out. I ask myself, how did he feel when the bullet pierced his body? Did it cause my little boy a lot of pain? How could he bear the pain of the bullet when it hit him?”
Asmahan Hiles, mother of Othman
These so-called investigations are also a blatant attempt by Israel to convince the world that they have ‘legitimate’ reasons for firing on Palestinian demonstrators – by putting to trial a few soldiers, Israel can put on a show of legality while those at the top continue to kill with impunity. In most cases, these trials are closed quickly because of “lack of evidence” of “lack of culpability”.
In the case of the trial for the soldier who killed Othman, the military stated that “the investigation did not uncover evidence that meets criminal criteria and substantiates a causal tie between the soldier’s shooting and the injury to the rioter”. As Israel continues to disregard any concern for basic human rights, let alone internationally agreed upon human rights law, it remains to be seen whether Israel will be held to account for the continued colonization and possible war crimes being committed in Palestine.