The Jerusalem District Court published Tuesday the testimonies of a number of Palestinian citizens who were involved in the brutal lynching of two IDF reservists, Yossi Avrahami and Vadim Nurzhitz, in Ramallah over 13 years ago.
The testimonies first appeared in the Israel daily Yedioth Ahronoth.
The murders of Avrahami and Nurzhitz occurred on October 12, 2000, at the start of the Second Intifada. After they accidentally entered the West Bank city of Ramallah, they were taken to the local Palestinian Authority police station. A crowd of rioters stormed the building and stabbed and beat the soldiers to death. The mob then dragged the soldiers’ mutilated bodies to al-Manara Square in the center of Ramallah.
“We were in a craze to see blood. I entered the room… I saw an Israeli soldier sprawled on the floor in front of the door,” said 32-year-old Aziz Salha, one of the participants in the attack. “I came closer to him and saw a knife lodged in his back, near his right shoulder. I removed the knife and stabbed him in the back two or three times… while others in the room continued to kick him. I put my hand over his mouth and the other on his shoulder, in order to strangle him.”
During the lynching of the soldiers, Salha was filmed by an Italian TV crew waving his bloodstained hands fervently, cheering and inciting the crowed that gathered at the scene. The disturbing image is deeply rooted in the memory of many Israelis and later became a symbol of the horrifying attack.
“I saw that my hands were drenched with blood, and so was my shirt,” Saleh continued. “So I went over to the window and I waved my hands at the people who were in the courtyard.”
Salha was arrested by Israel in 2001 and sentenced to life imprisonment, but was released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal in 2011.
Raed Sheikh, a Palestinian police officer who admitted to participating in the lynching as well, said he had beaten one of the Israeli soldiers with a metal rod.
“I took an iron pipe, about 25 centimeters long, and went to the room where the two reservists were placed,” Sheikh said.
“I saw the Russian soldier alive and on his feet. I approached him with the pipe in my hand and I hit him across his body… five times, and his head. The soldier began making a grunting noise… I hit the soldier with pipe while others attacked him.”