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Israeli Army Opens Probe Into Killing of 2 Palestinians at Close Range

Israeli soldiers prepare to enter the Gaza Strip, at a staging area near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Dec. 13, 2023.
Israeli soldiers prepare to enter the Gaza Strip, at a staging area near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Dec. 13, 2023.

Israel on Friday said it was opening a military police investigation into the killing of two Palestinians in the West Bank after an Israeli human rights group posted videos that appeared to show Israeli troops killing the men — one who was incapacitated and the second unarmed — during a military raid in a West Bank refugee camp.

The B’Tselem human rights group accused the army of carrying out a pair of “illegal executions.”

The security camera videos show two Israeli military vehicles pursuing a group of Palestinians in the Faraa refugee camp in the northern West Bank. One man, who appears to be holding a red canister, is gunned down by soldiers. B'Tselem identified the man as 25-year-old Rami Jundob.

The military jeep then approaches Jundob as he lies bleeding on the ground and fires multiple shots at him until he is still. Soldiers then approach a man identified by B'Tselem as 36-year-old Thaar Shahin as he cowers underneath the hood of a car. They shoot at him from close range.

B’Tselem said that Shahin was killed instantly and Jundob died of his wounds the next day.

Israel's military said its military police unit opened an investigation into the December 8 shootings “on the suspicion that during the incident, shots were fired not in accordance with the law.” It said that the findings would be referred to a military prosecutor, an indication that criminal charges could be filed.

Israel rarely prosecutes such cases, and human rights groups say soldiers rarely receive serious punishments even if wrongdoing is found. In a high-profile case, an Israeli soldier was convicted of manslaughter and served a reduced nine-month sentence in jail after shooting a badly wounded Palestinian who was lying on the ground in 2016.

The army recently opened an investigation into a soldier who shot and killed an Israeli man who had just killed a pair of Palestinian attackers at a Jerusalem bus stop. The soldier apparently suspected the Israeli was also an assailant — despite kneeling on the ground, raising his hands and opening his shirt to show he wasn't a threat. The shooting underscored what critics say is an epidemic of excessive force by Israeli soldiers, police and armed citizens against suspected Palestinian attackers.

In a separate incident Friday, police said they had suspended officers caught on video beating up a Palestinian photojournalist in east Jerusalem. The photojournalist was identified on social media as Mustafa Haruf, who works for the Turkish news agency Anadolu.

In the video, one officer approaches Haruf and strikes him with the butt of his gun while another officer pushes him against a car. One points his gun at Haruf and another pulls him to the ground in a headlock. An officer kneels on Haruf's body, the other officer kicking Haruf repeatedly in the head as he screams in pain.

Other officers stand by, watching and pushing back shocked onlookers.

“The Border Police Command views the conduct of these officers as inconsistent with the values of the force,” the police said in a statement as it announced the suspensions of the officers and an investigation.

Both incidents come as tensions in the West Bank and east Jerusalem have been inflamed by the war between Israel and Hamas, with Israelis on edge and bracing for further attacks. Palestinians and human rights groups have long accused Israeli forces of using excessive force and skirting accountability.

Since the outbreak of war, violence in the West Bank from Israeli forces and settlers has reached record levels. Since October 7, 287 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. That's the deadliest year on record in the West Bank in 18 years, it said.