Attacks against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank by Israeli occupation forces and extremist Jewish settlers have increased sharply. Too many of the attacks have been deadly.
In the latest “extrajudicial execution”, young Palestinian Ammar Mefleh, 22, was shot dead by a police officer who was manhandling him in Huwwarah, near Nablus. The shooting was captured on video and has been shared widely on social media. As the young man was trying to free himself from a headlock, the policeman drew his pistol and fired two shots at close range. Another two shots were fired while Mefleh was lying motionless on the ground.
According to the Israeli occupation police, the Palestinian victim attempted to carry out a stabbing attack and the officer “neutralised” him. Israeli i24 News reported that a police spokesperson claimed that a “knife attack” occurred when a group of suspects approached a patrol of soldiers operating in the area. The video was said to show the Palestinian youth attempting to steal the police officer’s gun before stabbing him. The media outlet said that the police distributed one photo of a knife on the ground and another of a policeman with what appeared to be a stab wound to his head.
However, Haaretz reported that, “Israeli police say the incident started when the Palestinian man attempted to break into an Israeli couple’s car in order to stab them, but eyewitness testimony contradicts this version of events.”
A Haaretz journalist spoke to eyewitnesses who gave a different story. They rejected the Israeli police account that Ammar Mefleh was shot by the officer acting in “self-defence”. Moreover, the Israeli occupation forces “prevented medics from trying to save the victim as he lay on the ground.”
Indeed, Palestinians who witnessed the incident said that Mefleh was attacked by illegal Israeli settlers and the police officer went to help the settlers. He attacked Mefleh and insisted on arresting him.
“Horrified by today’s killing of a Palestinian man, Ammar Mefleh, during a scuffle with an Israeli soldier near Huwwara in the occupied West Bank,” tweeted UN Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland. He was criticised by i24 News who said that Wennesland failed to mention that Mefleh, “who by then had already stabbed two other Israeli soldiers, was trying to seize the border guard’s automatic weapon when he was shot.”
Yet again, though, it seems that the evidence contradicts the official Israeli version of events, and what we saw was another crime committed by an Israeli in uniform against an unarmed Palestinian. That hasn’t stopped Israel from pushing its own narrative.
“This incident is a terror attack, in which an Israeli policeman was stabbed in his face and the life of another police officer was threatened and consequently he shot his assailant,” claimed Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon on Twitter. He accused the UN peace envy of “distorting reality.”
Israel’s incoming National Security Minister, the far-right extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir, spoke to the officer and hailed the killing of the Palestinian as a “well done, precise, swift and rigorous action,” calling the officer a “hero” in the process. “Precise action, you really fulfilled the honour of all of us and did what was assigned to you,” Ben-Gvir told the killer. “You protected yourself and the people there. Every terrorist will know that if he wants to steal a weapon and kill a fighter, this is how the fighters operate.”
Such poisonous and provocative remarks came from a far-right extremist Israeli official, but they reflected the narrative across the political spectrum in the occupation state. Both Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Yair Lapid also hailed the killer.
Lapid said that he “saved lives” and stressed that attempts to tell a “false story” about the attack were “a disgrace” before adding, “Our security forces will continue to act resolutely against terrorism wherever it raises its head.”
What this and many other incidents illustrate is that, in Israel, the distinctions between the political left, centre and far-right are blurred. All are extremists in their own way, because they all continue to oppress the Palestinians. They all know that their state is built on terrorism and ethnic cleansing; that they are colonising someone else’s land; and that they impose a system of apartheid on the people of occupied Palestine.
Renowned Israeli historian Professor Ilan Pappe has described all Israeli governments, both right and left, as extensions of each other. “This old-new political elite will continue to do everything that previous governments have done over the past 74 years,” he said of the incoming far-right government, “but with more zeal, determination and disregard for international condemnation.”
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.