Amnesty International: “Israeli Forces Trigger Happy”

In a new report, Amnesty International accuses Israeli forces of using excessive force in the West Bank.

Israel has replied that the International Amnesty report fails to acknowledge the violence directed at Israeli citizens.

The report focuses on the use of excessive force by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the beginning of 2011.

Excerpt: Freelance journalist and photographer shot by rubber bullets

Mohammad al-Azzah, 23, a freelance journalist and photographer, was shot in the face with a rubber-coated metal bullet by an Israeli soldier after he had been photographing troops firing at Palestinian youths throwing stones on the evening of 8 April 2013. He told Amnesty International that soldiers and Border Police had seen him taking photographs from the balcony of the Lajee Center in Aida refugee camp as they fired at the refugee camp, from where children and youths were throwing stones.

“It was clear to the Border Police that I was taking pictures. After a few minutes, army soldiers came down from the gate. There were eight or 10 of them. They had guns with live ammunition and tear gas launchers, and they started firing towards the camp. They passed by me and saw me taking pictures. Then one soldier came back to me and told me to go home. I said that I was only taking pictures; I was doing no harm or posing any danger. The commander came and took the soldier away. The commander… was talking to the soldiers and pointing at me. He also made phone calls. I got a little bit worried and went inside, but I kept the door open and continued to take pictures. The commander, who was 10 metres away from me, was still pointing at me and making calls. Then I saw him shooting rubber bullets, one bullet at a time, sniping, towards the camp. He would shoot a bullet every one to three minutes. It was about 7.20pm, getting dark, but I continued to take pictures, especially of the commander, and the four soldiers around him now, who were always laughing.

The commander called one of the soldiers. I decided to stop photographing and go home. I closed the window, then came back to close the door, and one soldier shot directly at me. I saw the shot leave his gun… The bullet hit me in the right of the face and penetrated inside. I screamed, and my colleague, who was also working late, came running to me. He took me down the stairs and called an ambulance and then tried to call someone to get a car. When he opened the door to take me out, the soldiers shot at
the door. He yelled at the soldiers that they had killed me, and then decided to take me through. We ran out of the building and continued for 150 meters. Then a neighbor came and took me to al-Hussein hospital.”

Mohammad al-Azzah was quickly transferred to the Arab Society for Rehabilitation hospital in Bethlehem and had the first of two operations an hour after his arrival. Doctors removed a “cylinder rubber-coated metal bullet” that was lodged in his face and undertook reconstructive surgery. He spent 17 days in hospital. The day after he went home, Israeli soldiers raided his house.

See the report …

INTRO: Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank