The official Israeli story about Israa Abed – the Nazareth woman who was shot six times on Oct 9 by Israeli security forces as she stood motionless in a bus station – has changed so many times, it’s difficult to know what to believe any more. By a small miracle she survived the shooting.
I raised many questions about this incident, based on two videos taken by bystanders, in a post on the day she was shot. That post, including the videos, is available here.
Israa is one of Israel’s 1.6 million Palestinian citizens. She lives in Israel, not the occupied territories.
Let’s be clear: the main reason the police have repeatedly revised their account of the events of Oct 9 is because the visual evidence has conclusively refuted their claims. They have been forced to back-pedal.
Without the video, Israa would have been charged with, and probably convicted of, terrorism offences. In line with threats from Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, she would also have risked being stripped of her citizenship.
Originally the police said they “neutralised” Israa after she pulled out a knife and stabbed a security guard at the bus station in the city of Afula. When it was clear no one had been injured, the story changed: she had tried without success to stab the guard.
Then it was reported that the police had shot Israa not because of an attempted attack but because she behaved in a threatening manner towards other people at the bus station.
Now, in the latest version, the police say she did not intend to stab anyone. In the video footage, reports the Haaretz newspaper, she can be seen “standing next to a young ultra-Orthodox man without trying to hurt him”.
Instead, the police say she was depressed and / or mentally unstable and pulled out a knife because she wanted to “induce” the security forces to shoot her.
Pause for a second as you digest that argument. According to the police, Israa went to the bus station with the intention of pulling out a knife but not harming anyone, knowing that doing so would be enough to get her shot and maybe killed. And why would she think that? Because she looks Arab (she wears a headscarf), and, like most Palestinian citizens, understands that in any confrontation with the security services that is reason enough for the police to shoot without justifiable cause.
Even more disconcertingly, the Israeli police seem to agree that Israa’s assumptions were warranted.
Further, the claim that Israa wanted to be shot is pretty convenient for the four security staff who, even according to the official account, fired their weapons at a woman who posed absolutely no threat to anyone at the bus station.
Might they be disciplined, or, more properly, punished, for shooting a woman six times for no reason at all? Apparently not. They have been investigated and it has been decided that “there is no reason to take disciplinary measures against them, given the extenuating circumstances of the incident”. One might well ask: what were those “extenuating circumstances”?
Finally, the police are still claiming that Israa pulled out a knife. Given their series of bogus claims till now, there is no reason to assume even this part of their story to be true.
As I noted in my previous post, a video taken seconds after Israa was shot, when she is lying on the ground, appears to show a pair of sunglasses next to her. A man in jeans and T-shirt goes over to her, ignored by police, and kicks away the sunglasses. Who is that man and why is he interfering with evidence? No one seems to be asking these questions, so we are unlikely to get any answers.