Israeli soldier becomes overnight hero for pointing loaded gun at Palestinian youths

Israeli soldier David Adamov has become an overnight hero in Israel. Why? Because he cocked his assault rifle at unarmed Palestinian youths in Hebron.

Adamov’s actions were caught on camera and posted to YouTube by the activist group Youth Against Settlements. In the video, Adamov is seen talking trash to a Palestinian teen in Hebron, a city in the occupied West Bank, as several onlookers watch with cameras in hand.

Adamov then loads his assault rifle and points it at the teen’s face and takes aim at several others while threatening them with “a bullet in your head” if they don’t stop recording.

Sadly, the video’s content is not unusual or surprising. The Internet is teeming with visual representations of Israel’s occupation enforcers dishing out vicious cruelty against unarmed Palestinians of all ages with total impunity.

But this particular video struck a nerve among soldiers following rumors that Adamov was sentenced to 20 days in military jail for aiming his gun at civilians. The Israeli army quickly clarified that Adamov was being held for assaulting a superior officer for the second time. In fact, it was the Palestinian youth who was arrested and interrogated. But it was too late to stop the backlash.

Within hours a storm of outrage erupted within the Israeli army, culminating in the Facebook page “David from the Nahal brigade” — or “David Hanahlawi” in Hebrew. With more than 129,000 likes as of this writing plus thousands of photos of Israelis, mostly soldiers, holding up signs in Hebrew that say “We are with David Hanahlawi,” the page is still gaining traction.

A dangerous victim complex

Several Israeli politicians have expressed solidarity with Adamov, including economy minister Naftali Bennett of the far right Jewish Home party.

“I would have done the same as David the Nahal soldier,” Bennet declared. “Violence was directed at him. He was alone, surrounded by violent, provocative Arabs. He didn’t shoot. He defended himself and those surrounding him reasonably and ended the incident.”

Construction and housing minister Uri Ariel, also of the Jewish Home party, added his voice to the chorus of incitement from high level officials, saying, “The reality in which soldiers have to absorb harm and humiliation on a daily basis without being able to respond, even when their lives are really in danger, because we’re afraid of criticism, is intolerable.”

Ariel was echoing the main complaint from Israeli soldiers that their “hands are tied” in the face of Palestinian aggression. But the facts tell a far different story.

According to reality, Israeli soldiers are free to act as belligerently as they wish toward the mostly defenseless population they are tasked with dominating. Sure, Palestinian children sometimes throw rocks, but they are aiming at heavily-armed Israeli soldiers who have a habit of launching tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian school children, not to mention the live ammunition routinely fired at unarmed Palestinians.

Trigger-happy impunity

In a damning investigation released in February, Amnesty International found that “trigger-happy” Israeli soldiers and security forces since 2011 have critically injured 261 Palestinians, including 67 children, in the West Bank with live ammunition.

In 2013 alone, Amnesty documented 22 Palestinian civilians, including four children, killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank. They found that none of them posed a threat and that some were “willful killings” that “amount to war crimes.” 

Nevertheless, Israeli soldiers, whose hands are supposedly tied, are rarely — if ever — prosecuted, let alone convicted. As Amnesty notes, not one soldier has been convicted for willfully killing a Palestinian since 1987.

With this in mind, the notion that Israeli forces are the victims in this scenario is laughably absurd. It is Palestinians whose hands are tied (or more accurately, shackled) in the face of checkpoints, land theft and forced displacement executed by trigger-happy soldiers with a callous disregard for Palestinian life

Media’s troubling tone

In typical biased fashion, The New York Times’ Jodi Rudoren characterized the incident as “an aggressive confrontation with Palestinian teenagers,” as though the encounter was between two equally powerful parties rather than a heavily armed occupation soldier and unarmed civilian youths. 

Rudoren went on to report as fact an Israeli army lie that one of the Palestinian youths in the video was holding brass knuckles. This was disproven the following day when a second video emerged (embedded below) showing the Palestinian teen, whose name is Saddam Abu Sneinah, holding prayer beads, not brass knuckles.

Other media outlets — like Reuters, the BBC and The Guardian — centered the story around Israeli reactions to the Facebook campaign, an unfortunate reminder that Israeli opinions about the occupation take precedence over the often-ignored daily violence inflicted against Palestinians.

Israeli extremism

This entire episode should serve as a warning about the extremism and anti-Palestinian fervor permeating Israeli society, where reality is so warped that heavily-armed occupiers genuinely see themselves as victims to defenseless population they are actively wiping off the map. It is a scandal that the world is silent while Palestinians are at their mercy. 

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