“If they see you don’t respond, it will be seen as a weakness,” the Israeli Border Police officer Omri Abu, currently on trial for the murder of a 10-year-old Palestinian child, said last week according to a report in The National.
Abu is on trial to determine whether he is guilty of negligence in the shooting of 10-year-old Ahmed Mousa in 2008 in the West Bank town of Na’alin.
He had been accused of violating guidelines by firing live ammunition on demonstrators.
Mousa was reportedly throwing rocks, along with other Palestinian children, at Abu’s armored vehicle. Mousa was shot in the head and died immediately.
Abu was reported to have defended his decision, saying that using his gun is the best course of action when dealing with Palestinian demonstrators.
“If they see you don’t respond they can crowd around us and the incident can escalate to 1,001 other possibilities,” the Israeli daily Haaretz quoted him as saying in the trial.
However, his claims have not been substantiated by other members of his team present at the incident. They claim there was no danger at the time of the shooting.
“The commander of the unit testified that he had asked his commander, who was located nearby, for permission to fire rubber bullets. He said Abu, who was sitting beside him, had fired on his own accord,” according to a report in Haaretz.
Israeli officials have often been accused of negligent use of their weapons.
“They were throwing stones at the jeep in a massive way,” Abu said during his trial. “These vehicles are only protected to a certain level.”
This is not the first instance in which an Israeli officer’s “negligence” has caused controversy and been difficult to prove on whether action was an officer’s personal decision or an indirect instruction from senior defense officials.
In an attempt to stop the demolition of a Palestinian home, activist Rachel Corrie was run over and crushed by the bulldozer along with the house in 2003. Her death left a stain on the public’s memory.
Los Angeles Times’ Edmund Sanders reported in 2010 about the bulldozer driver who struggled to remember Corie’s name. “It’s Rachel-something’ he testified … ‘Carrie?’”
Like other fellow victims, Corrie’s was a hopeless case. “The Israeli government has maintained that Corrie and her fellow international activists were responsible for the incident, saying protesters entered a ‘war zone’ and put themselves at risk by attempting to prevent Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip,” Sanders reported.
Israeli youth sporadically refusing military service on the grounds of freedom and conscience, often called the Conscientious objectors, have made headlines, and have been punished as a consequence.
“For 64 years Israel is implementing a policy of Apartheid and occupation in all territories under its control, that includes among other things, ethnic cleansing, house demolitions, ongoing siege, violent attacks, discrimination of the non-Jewish citizens of Israel and so on. When I understood all of this, I decided to refuse,” said the 18-year-old Israeli Noam Gur.