The Killing of Mahdi

Mahdi Mohtaseb, a 22-year old Palestinian from Hebron, was shot dead at close range by Israeli forces this morning. This is a section from a report written and published by the Israeli online news website Ynet: “After wounding the soldier, the assailant, 22-year-old Hebron resident Mahadi al-Muhatseb, reportedly tried to attack a border policeman who shot and killed the individual.” The report can be accessed here:,7340,L-4717937,00.html

It turns out that the “reportedly” bit of the report is indisputably inaccurate and a brazen distortion of reality. Mahdi was a victim of an extrajudicial killing. In the video below, you can see Mahdi clearly lying on the floor, struggling for life. An Israeli soldier walks up to him, points his M16 machine gun at him, and shoots him point blank, killing him on the spot. At no point did Mahdi pose a threat to the soldier. The video is graphic and difficult to watch, but necessary in order to witness the ease at which Palestinian lives are taken by Israeli soldiers.

Video of Mahdi’s killing:

Videos such as the ones above are now emerging almost on a daily basis on social media. If anything, they indicate an institutional ideology within the Israeli army of kill first, and then concoct a cover up with your comrades to justify the killing. The Israeli media adopts the army’s version of events and runs the story on its main website without double checking the facts. It suffices with using words such as “reportedly” to deal with any possible emerging contradictions later on, such as the video above.

As such, the Israeli media is complicit in the crimes committed against our people. It empowers and congratulates soldiers, like the one who killed Mahdi Mohtaseb, to recklessly take a life knowing very well that the Israeli media, military, and political establishments will shield them from any due process that ought to hold them accountable for their crimes. The killing of Palestinians has always and will always be condoned, justified, and normalized in Israeli media, among Israeli politicians and the wider Israeli public. If something like the above were to occur in the United States, for example, we all know what the outcome will be for the shooter in question.

Israeli media reports extrajudicial killings of Palestinians as necessary acts reluctantly committed by Israeli soldiers because their lives were at threat. Yet, many of the most recent videos of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians, like the one above, are widely disputing the notion that the shooters’ lives were at risk at the time of shooting (the video of Fadi Aloun’s killing also comes to mind). Despite video disputations, Israeli media tends to incontestably adopt police or military accounts of so-called attacks without going into much detail or ascertaining such reports to ensure the absolute, indisputable truth.

There is also a habit within the Israeli media and military establishments to refer to clear murders, such as the one witnessed in the video above, as mistakes that contradict the values and code of ethics of “the most moral army” in the world. This will only occur when there is a stark contradiction between an initial Israeli account and the actual truth which may emerge as a result of new evidence, such as the video above. This is normally followed by a declaration by the Israeli army of an investigation which will ultimately either absolve the killer soldier of any responsibility or pass a symbolic punishment such as a military rank demotion or perhaps a couple of days in a military cell. It is my expectation that since the video of Mahdi’s killing has now emerged on social media and is contradicting the initial Israeli account, the Israeli military will come out with a statement saying that it will investigate the incident in an independent and transparent way. Had there been no video evidence furnished, the incident would have gone unnoticed and life would have proceeded as normal, just another dead Palestinian.

You will note that there is never a case where an Israeli soldier, who has behaved in the manner with which Mahdi’s killer has, will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. He will get off the hook as the Israeli military system is built around protecting its soldiers to the maximum extent possible, and this is sadly the norm. Many young Palestinians such as Mahdi are being killed with incredible ease by Israeli soldiers, soldiers that will most likely become Israel’s future politicians. A system that is built to protect these soldiers as they commit these murders offers no disincentive for future killers to think twice before they pull the trigger.

What perplexes me, and perhaps the rest of the Palestinian people, is the continued insistence of the international community on negotiations as a means to resolve the so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict. How are we expected to sit and negotiate with a government that, not only approves, but mandates and even celebrates killings such as that of Mahdi? What are Palestinians left to resist the occupation with, if violence is deemed terrorism, non-violent diplomatic overtures and boycotts deemed as attempts to delegitimize Israel, and negotiations a feeble process used by successive Israeli governments to buy time while injecting settlers into the occupied territory? Are we meant to sit here, witness videos such as the one above, and go to sleep pleased with life under occupation? Are we supposed to sit here and accept statements by the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that the Palestinians will continue to be controlled, watched, and managed for the foreseeable future by Israel? Would any other people in the world accept this eventuality and live with it, not challenge it? Would you, dear reader, accept this if you were in our place? I highly doubt it.


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