Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Substantive Evidence Contradicts IDF Innuendoes on Abu Rahmeh Killing

Below is the most thorough answer to date to the IDF innuendoes (By the way, I said yesterday that they were circulated by the IDF Spokesperson's Office. I don't think there has been an official statement from the IDF, merely "background discussion" by "informed sources.")

As for the reliability of the witnesses, it has been proven time and time again that Palestinian witnesses are more reliable than the IDF, which is often backtracking and changing its story. Just two days ago there was a story of a Palestinian being shot dead because he was going to stab an Israeli. You can still find the headline on the web here. But click the link, and voila, the knife has been transformed into a broken bottler here. Hey, even a broken bottle can do damage, I suppose. Only it turns out that the bottle wasn't broken, as reported here. It turns out the guy was completely unarmed, and he happened to be carrying a bottle. What does the IDF say? "Oops. My bad; a few misunderstandings…"

An officer in the Central Command said the incident seemed to have been caused by "a combination of misunderstandings stemming from the Palestinian citizen's inexplicable behavior and the high state of alert of the soldiers" and that a thorough investigation was under way….

The newly appointed commander of the Jordan Valley Brigade, Col. Nohi Mandel, is investigating the incident, whose details are not yet clear. Some soldiers said Dragma had a knife on him, although it turned out to be a glass bottle. Dragma apparently does not belong to a terror group, nor did he suffer from a psychological disorder.

In other words, first you shoot (Who believes the army's claim that the rules of engagement were observed? What? No hands are raised?) and then you cross your fingers and hope for the best. In the meantime, the IDF tries to control the story by putting out information that it later retracts. We know that there are IDF soldiers testimonies of soldiers firing at unarmed civilians, and, occasionally, one or two are caught and given slaps on the wrist. These are routinedly denied by the IDF, unless they are caught on film, or a soldier goes to testify, etc. Who besides the dead man will know about the cover-up?

Anyway, the facts don't matter to the IDF, now that the "competing narratives" are out there. But for the record, here is the statement by Jonathan Pollak of the PCC of Bil'in.

Now you know why he was arrested for riding a bicycle in an "unlawful assembly."

Substantial evidence contradicts the army's version of the events surrounding the death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah
The evidence surrounding the events leading to the death of Bil'in resident Jawaher Abu Rahmah disproves completely the army spokesperson's version, to the point of putting the army in a ridiculous light. The army's version is based on claims made anonymously, without any supporting evidence – unlike the version of the Abu Rahmah family and the Popular Coordinating Committee of Bil'in, which is detailed below.

For additional information: Jonathan Pollak 054-632-7736

Since yesterday, the army has been promoting in the Israeli media a mendacious version regarding the events that led to the death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah of Bil'in on Friday, 31 December 2010. According to the army's version, Jawaher was not injured by tear gas and was possibly not even present at the demonstration. The army spokesperson did not see fit to publish an official statement on the matter, instead passing the information to the media in the name of anonymous "army sources."

The facts of the matter, which are supported by the testimony of eyewitness who were present at the demonstration, as well as by the ambulance driver who evacuated her to the hospital, contradict completely the army's version:

Soubhiya Abu Rahmah, mother of Jawaher: "I was standing beside Jawaher on the hill that is near the place where the demonstration took place, when we were injured by a cloud of tear gas. Jawaher began to feel unwell from inhaling the gas and started to move back from the place; soon after that she vomited and collapsed. We took her to the nearest road, and from there she was evacuated by ambulance to the hospital, where she remained until her death. She was not sick with cancer, nor did she have any other illness; and she was not asthmatic."

Ilham Fathi: I was on the roof of my house, which is located a few meters from where Jawaher stood. When the cloud of tear gas moved in our direction, I went downstairs in order to close the windows. While I was closing one of the windows, I saw her lose consciousness from the gas and ran over to her, together with Islam Abu Rahmah, in order to pull her away. We picked her up together and carried her to my garden. We called for help and she began to vomit and foam at the mouth. Phone: 059-5127887

Islam Abu Rahmah: "I was standing with Jawaher, her mother and my grandmother in order to watch the confrontation that was going on just in front of us, in the area of the fence. The wind moved the gas in our direction, making our eyes itch and tear up. After that she (Jawaher) began to cough and foam at the mouth. Soon after that she became weak and lay down on the ground. I succeeded in carrying her as far as the Abu Khamis home, about 40 meters in the direction of her house, but then she became terribly weak, vomited violently and foamed at the mouth. She was having difficult breathing and lost her sense of direction. We got a few women to help her by waving a paper fan over her face in order to provide some oxygen. After that she was taken to the hospital."

Saher Bisharat, the ambulance who evacuated Jawaher: "We received Jawaher near the entrance that is parallel to the fence, which is where the demonstration was taking place. She was still partially conscious, answered questions, and said that she had choked on gas. I took her straight to the hospital." (Click here to view the Red Crescent report). Phone: 059-9374348

The army has also claimed that the reports about Abu Rahmeh's injuries started to arrive only several hours after the incident, in the evening. That claim is contradicted by a tweet sent by the NGO Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), which reports the injury of Jawaher, including her name, in real time (click here to view). The tweet was sent at 2:36 pm (4:36 am on the West Coast of the United States). Wafa, the Palestinian news service, published a report that includes the injury of Jawaher Abu Rahmah shortly after the event (click here to view).

Also according to "army sources," which remain anonymous, Jawaher Abu Rahmah suffered from a serious illness, possibly leukemia; the "sources" postulate that she died from a pre-existing condition rather than tear gas inhalation. Several sources reject that claim.

Dr. Uday Abu Nahlah: "Jawaher Abu Rahmah was employed in my home on a regular basis. On Thursday she was at work as usual, healthy, only one day before her death." Phone: 059-9796827 (English and Arabic).

Jawaher had an inner ear infection, which affected her balance, for which she was recently given a CT scan. The radiologist who performed the CT scan, Dr. Hamis Al Sahfi'i, confirmed that the brain scan was normal (for the CT scan results click here). Jawaher had a minor health issue involving fluids in her inner ear. Her physicians insist that she did not suffer from any illness or from any symptoms that might, if combined with tear gas, lead to her death.

There is not, nor could there be, any indication that Abu Rahmah had cancer; in fact, she was in good health. The director of the hospital refutes the claim that she died from a pre-existing condition:

Mohammed Aida, director of the Ramallah health center where Abu Rahmah received her care: "Jawaher Abu Rahmah died from lung failure that was caused by tear gas inhalation, leading to a heart attack. She arrived at the hospital only partly conscious, and then lost consciousness completely." Click here for the hospital's official medical report.

Mohammed Khatib, a member of Bil'in's Popular Coordinating Committee: "The army is trying to evade its responsibility for Jawaher's death with lies and invented narratives that have no basis. They are spreading these lies and invented narratives via the media, which is not bothering to do basic fact checking. Our version is supported by named sources and with medical documents. In a properly functioning society, the army's version, which has been spread by anonymous sources, would not be considered worthy of publication."


John Welch said...

- Untrained teenagers with guns, or a street-gang with military rifles?

- Which is the Israeli army?

- I spent most of May in Israel, and I'm inclined toward the view that the IDF is comprised of inexperienced and untrained teenagers. Just from seeing the Israeli military kids on the streets and buses, meeting them at checkpoints, and comparing them to (US) Marines and Soldiers, and to typical big-city police officers.

- You (the generic "you") should worry if your soldiers have so little confidence, and so little judgement, that they shoot unarmed Palestinians at a checkpoint. By contrast, I waved a US drivers license out the window, and the kid-soldiers waved us through.

- The plain facts will get out, even though the NY Times might refuse to carry the story. Religious groups -- church and synagogue -- share stories quickly. This will pass quickly from JVP and Friends of Sabeel and Women in Black and members of congregations, such as Tree of Life.

- Word (and pictures) will spread. It will spread underneath the Times, but will be more effective by going from one face-to-face group to another.

Anonymous said...

: "I was standing beside Jawaher on the hill that is near the place where the demonstration took place, when we were injured by a cloud of tear gas.

near is not at

the sort of tear gas used is heavier than air...had the concentration been thick enough to kill, more than one person out of the thousand reportedly there, would have been brought in to hospital for treatment

sorry, that dog wont hunt

we will never know what caused her death....end of story

however, it is way past time for border police and idf to carry their own video cams...just as police do now in the states.

this would bring an end to pallywood as we know it