A top Israeli general on Saturday said there was no basis for reports that the wheelchair-bound Palestinian amputee who was killed during riots along the Gaza border on December 15 was targeted by an Israeli army sniper or deliberately shot by Israeli troops.
An IDF investigation did not establish that Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh died as a result of IDF fire, Maj. Gen Yoav Mordechai, the IDF liaison to the Palestinians, wrote on his Facebook page in Arabic. And there was “no basis for the false reports that a sniper deliberately targeted” him, Mordechai said.
Mordechai said he had called on the International Red Cross to share its records of the injuries Abu Thurayeh sustained at the border protest in order to “determine the truth and end the conspiracy of lies that incites violence.”
Palestinian reports, wrote Mordechai, have asserted without foundation that Abu Thurayeh, a double amputee who reportedly lost both his legs in a 2008 Israeli airstrike, died after he was shot by an Israeli sniper during the border protest.
Neither Mordechai’s statement nor the public portions of the army’s investigations explicitly denied that Abu Thurayeh was killed by Israeli troops, only that he was not deliberately targeted with live bullets.
Throughout the protest, IDF soldiers made extensive use of riot dispersal weapons, namely tear gas and rubber bullets. Though these are meant to be less lethal than standard bullets, there have nevertheless been numerous cases of people being killed after getting hit by rubber bullets and tear gas canisters, or from complications connected to inhaling the tear gas itself.
Abu Thurayeh’s death sparked angry denunciations by Palestinians and others, who said he could not have represented a serious threat during the ongoing protests against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In the wake of the incident, the IDF launched an internal probe of Abu Thurayeh’s death, and determined that soldiers did not intentionally shoot the wheelchair-bound protester.
The results of the internal probe presented to Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir on Monday identified no “no moral or professional failures” by the part of the Israeli soldiers, but slammed Palestinian officials for hindering its investigation by not sharing details of his injuries sustained at the protest.
In a statement, the military said last Friday’s demonstration “was extremely violent and included thousands of rioters, and soldiers fired selectively on chief instigators.”
According to AFP, Abu Thurayeh was a regular feature at protests along the border. The unmarried 29-year-old lived at home with his parents and had been without regular work since the incident in which he lost his legs, the agency said.
“He was injured in 2008 by an Israeli helicopter that targeted him after he brought down the Israeli flag and raised the Palestinian flag along the border,” his brother Samir told AFP after his death was confirmed last week. “It did not stop him from demonstrating for Jerusalem. He went alone every day to the border.”
In video footage recorded early on the day of the incident, Abu Thurayeh could be seen carrying the Palestinian flag and waving the victory sign at Israeli soldiers across the border.
“I want to go there,” he said, referring to the other side of the border, as a number of young men surrounding him waved Palestinian flags and others threw stones towards the troops. “This land is our land, we will not give up. America has to withdraw its decision,” he said in another video posted on social media.
A few hours before his death, and despite having no legs, Abu Thurayeh climbed an electricity pole to raise the Palestinian flag, eyewitnesses and journalists present said.
The Guardian quoted eyewitnesses who said Abu Thurayeh’s wheelchair was later pushed up to the fence, whereupon he climbed out of it and tried to crawl forward towards it, before being hit.
Hamas, the terror group which rules Gaza and seeks to destroy Israel, has called for a new intifada to liberate Jerusalem and urged Palestinians to confront soldiers and settlers.
At Abu Thurayeh’s funeral last week, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh termed him a hero and a martyr, and vowed never to relinquish Jerusalem. “And I don’t mean East Jerusalem, but unified Jerusalem,” he said, in footage screened by Israel’s Channel 10. “Not East Jerusalem and not West Jerusalem. Muslim. Muslim.”
On Friday, the Gaza health Ministry said two protesters were killed in ongoing clashes along the border, bringing the total number of Palestinians killed since Trump’s December 6th announcement to 11.
During clashes east of Gaza city, another wheelchair-bound demonstrator was documented by Daily Mail taking part in violent riots.