An investigation released by Israeli human rights group B'Tselem revealed that the Israeli forces destroyed evidence related to the murder of Abdel Fattah who was executed by extremist settlers earlier this month in the northern occupied West Bank, and this propagated a misleading version of events.
The Israeli troops claimed at the time that 23-year-old Mohammed Abdel Fattah was shot dead on 3 April after he tried to stab an Israeli settler in a car, who then shot him in self-defence.
But witnesses told B’Tselem that Abdel Fattah had in fact been throwing stones at Israeli settlers’ cars driving near the Palestinian village of Huwwara, in the Nablus district, when a settler pulled over after a stone hit his vehicle, and fired two shots at Abdel Fattah while still in his car, before getting out and firing "several more shots" as the Palestinian stood crouching behind movable waste containers.
The settler who shot Abdel Fattah was identified by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz as Joshua Sherman, a resident of the illegal Israel settlement of Elon Moreh and an activist on behalf of the Union of the Right-Wing Parties.
"A truck driving along the road also stopped, the driver got out, came over to stand next to Sherman, and the two men fired several more shots at Abdel Fattah, who was lying wounded on the ground,” B’Tselem's statement added.
'Ensure that the truth never comes to light'
The Palestinian, a resident of the village of Khirbet Qeis and a father of one, reportedly succumbed to his wounds in an Israeli hospital.
Another Palestinian working in a nearby shop was also reportedly hit by a bullet to the abdomen, B’Tselem said.
"Minutes after the two settlers opened fire, Israeli military jeeps arrived on the scene and soldiers used stun grenades to disperse the crowd that had begun to gather," the NGO wrote.
"Immediately after that, about eight soldiers went into two nearby shops to check their security cameras."
According to witnesses, the IOF filmed the security camera footage on their mobile phones, before erasing the video from the shops' DVRs.
B'Tselem denounced the actions of the army in the case, arguing that the fact that Sherman and the other settler were not detained, and that footage of the killing was destroyed, were efforts "to ensure that the truth never comes to light and the shooters would not face any charges or be held accountable in any way."
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 37 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces – not including Israeli civilians – since the beginning of the year.
Three Israelis have been killed by Palestinians during the same time frame.
Palestinians regularly accuse Israeli forces of smearing slain Palestinians by falsely claiming they constituted a deadly threat when they were killed.