An investigation by Israeli newspaper Haaretz has revealed that Israeli soldiers opened fire on a Palestinian vehicle whose driver was simply making a U-turn, in what military officials described at the time as an attempted ‘car-ramming’ attack.
According to the paper, on 20 February, the Israeli army spokesperson reported that soldiers had shot at a Palestinian vehicle that accelerated toward them in Beitin village, “in what media reports described as a suspected car ramming attack”.
In fact, after obtaining two videos and interviewing the survivors and witnesses, Haaretz reported that Israeli occupation forces opened fire “as the driver was making a U-turn and hit a rock, and that the soldiers faced no life-threatening situation”.
On the night in question, four Palestinian teenagers from nearby Deir Dibwan were driving toward Beitin at 8.30pm, when “they saw a military jeep coming down the road in the opposite lane”.
Panicking “because the driver had no license, they did a U-turn to head back to Deir Dibwan but struck a rock on the side of the road”, Haaretz described. The Israeli soldiers then got out of the jeep, shooting into the air and then at the car.
One of the passengers, Mohammed Sarameh, was seriously injured and is awaiting further surgery. According to the paper, “his medical file says one bullet had struck him in the back and another hit his left thigh”, and that “he cannot move his limbs and has sustained many injuries in his abdomen”.
Haaretz noted that none of the youths in the car were “suspected of any attacks or attempted attacks” by Israeli authorities.
Moreover, “a look at the car shows that signs of bullet entries appear only on the back of the vehicle. If the soldiers shot while the car was careening toward them then such signs should have appeared on the front or sides of the vehicle.”
The army has also “changed its version of events about the incident,” Haaretz added. For this latest article, the Israeli military spokesperson merely acknowledged that “troops saw a car accelerating toward them and thought it was an attempted car ramming therefore they shot at the vehicle”.