'We must learn lessons from this unfortunate incident'

Disturbing video shows Jewish convert fatally shot by IDF in West Bank posed no threat

Footage features David Ben Avraham obeying orders, standing with his hands up before reservist opened fire; interior minister posthumously grants him Israeli residency he long sought

David Ben Avraham. (Courtesy)
David Ben Avraham. (Courtesy)

A video has surfaced from last week’s deadly shooting of a Palestinian convert to Judaism that shows the victim raising his hands in compliance with orders from an IDF reservist who opened fire on the 63-year-old anyway.

The video shows the soldier approaching Sameh Muhammad Abd al-Rai Zaytoun — who went by David Ben Avraham since converting to Judaism several years ago — with his gun aimed at him after he exited a Palestinian taxi at a bus station near the settlement of Elazar, south of Jerusalem.

The soldier aggressively asks Ben Avraham if he is Jewish, to which he responds that he is. Seemingly doubting him, the soldier asks him for his name and Ben Avraham responds, “David Ben Avraham, idiot.”

He then reaches for his bag before the soldier stops him, saying, “Touch that and I’ll kill you, do you understand me?” The reservist then tells him to put his hands up.

Ben Avraham complies, stepping away from his bag and putting his hands on his head.

“I want you to shut your mouth and not move,” the soldier then says before derisively saying, “Jew,” seemingly still doubting Ben Avraham’s Judaism.

A separate surveillance video from the scene shows Ben Avraham standing with his hands on his head for a few seconds before the soldier shoots him.

A small knife was later found in Avraham’s bag, but the videos from the scene show that he was not a threat when he was shot. The IDF subsequently launched an investigation into what it branded as a “grave” incident.

The reservist’s attorneys, Cpt. (res.) Maya Katz and Lt. Yasmin Yonas, said in a statement that the soldier “just recently was honored for his bravery in thwarting the ramming attack that took place about three weeks ago in Gush Etzion.”

“The soldier acted with determination and we do not doubt that the investigation will clarify the chain of events and the case will end with an additional excellence award awarded to the soldier,” the attorneys added, seemingly downplaying the incident’s fatal result.

Ben Avraham sought to obtain Israeli citizenship for years after converting to Judaism but was rebuffed by authorities, ostensibly due to his Palestinian heritage.

Security forces at the scene where David Ben Avraham man was shot by troops near Elazar, in Gush Etzion, in the West Bank, on March 21, 2024. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

On Friday, Interior Minister Moshe Arbel posthumously approved Israeli residency status for Ben Avraham.

“We must learn lessons from this unfortunate incident that took the life of David Ben Avraham and do our best to carry out his last wish to be part of the Israeli people,” the minister said in a statement. “Approving his request does him justice, even if it is too late and under tragic circumstances.”

Security forces in Jerusalem and the West Bank are on high alert due to the Ramadan Muslim holy month, amid fears that tensions could ramp up as the war against the Hamas terror group continues in Gaza.

Palestinians say over 400 people have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since hostilities broke out with the Hamas terror group in Gaza on October 7, most while carrying out attacks or during clashes with IDF troops but some under more questionable circumstances.

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