By: Gideon Levy
Under the bridge on the road between Ein Yabrud and Silwad in the West Bank an atrocity occurred. Under that bridge, last week an IDF soldier shot an innocent man to death in front of his son. Under the bridge, soldiers from the Kfir infantry brigade lied and lied, until even the IDF was forced to deny their lies.
Under the bridge happened what happens often – and all the more so this past year – the execution of a Palestinian because of the tiniest of matters. But as opposed to most of the cases, this time the IDF rushed to investigate and even admitted the truth, and for this it should be commended. Now all that’s left is to see what it will do with the murdering and lying soldiers from the Kfir Brigade. When will they finally move the entire unit to the Golan Heights, as they did with one of its battalions, Netzah Yehuda, Battalion 97. This time is was the soldiers from Battalion 92, and it was not their first incident either.
Ahmed Kahla was a 45-year-old construction and renovation worker and father of four from the village of Rammun, who drove to work every morning accompanied by his son Qusay. The 18-year-old plans to start studying computers next school year and was helping his father in the meantime. Under the bridge they ran into a surprise army checkpoint. It happens often. But this time the soldiers stopped traffic entirely. They do this sometimes, usually for no reason except for their urge to abuse and to demonstrate power – these brainwashed 19-year-old young men, playing with their cellphones at a time when thousands of people are hurrying to work.
The drivers began to honk, the soldiers became annoyed about this rude civil disobedience, and one of them threw a stun grenade at Kahla’s car, which was the first in line. Kahla was angry about the damage to his car – that too is forbidden as far as the soldiers are concerned – so they sprayed his son in the eyes with pepper spray, pulled him out of the car and pushed him down on the road, his hands clasped behind his back.
His father was enraged. In his chutzpah, he couldn’t remain silent in the face of the abuse of his son in front of his own eyes – and got out of his car. Qusay was lying on the road and his eyes were closed and burning from the pepper spray. Suddenly Qusay heard two shots. The soldiers, who were mad at his father, shot him with two bullets to the neck. They knew they could always claim he tried to snatch their guns, or stab them. Kahla fell. The picture of him lying on his back with blood dripping out of his mouth and neck and flowing down the road is hard to look at. He died there.
The IDF, as the IDF does, rushed to deny and invent a completely false story. The soldiers identified a suspicious vehicle…The suspects refused to stop for a check…The suspects threw rocks and tried to attack with a knife…Riot control methods…The suspect tried to steal a gun from one of the solders. The entire arsenal of ridiculous justifications used for every killing. The Israeli media, as is its custom, hurried to adopt the lies and spread them without checking any of them. The IDF Spokesman’s Unit announces: A terrorist attack prevented; thanks, soldiers.
These stories are usually buried without any investigation. How was it that this time the head of the Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, ordered the brigade commander, Col. Eliav Elbaz, to investigate the incident? It’s hard to know, but the findings of the inquiry stated in the record time of just one week that the soldiers shot Kahla without justification.
Great, so now what? What is “to kill without justification?” Not murder, or at least manslaughter, the most serious crimes in the lawbooks? How is it that the soldiers who killed Kahla have not yet been arrested? Young people suspected of killing without justification walk among us free until their trial? After all, they could very easily kill again, with the same ease that they killed Kahla.
When I visited the Kahla family home in Rammun the day after the killing, I met with the mute brother of the victim, Hani, who communicated to me with hand movements: “Why did they kill him? Are they crazy? He wanted to talk to them, not to attack them. Why did they kill him?” No Hani, they aren’t crazy, this is how they were taught to treat Palestinians.