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href="https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/08/03/human-rights-defenders-palestinian-eyewitness-testimony-of-the-execution-of-abdul-fattah-al-sharif-by-israeli-soldier-elor-azaria/">https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/08/03/human-rights-defenders-palestinian-eyewitness-testimony-of-the-execution-of-abdul-fattah-al-sharif-by-israeli-soldier-elor-azaria/</a></font>
        <h1 class="reader-title">Human Rights Defenders: Palestinian
          Eyewitness Testimony of the Execution of Abdul Fattah
          al-Sharif by Israeli Soldier, Elor Azaria<br>
        </h1>
        <div class="credits reader-credits"><span
            class="post_author_intro">by</span> <span
            class="post_author" itemprop="author"><a
              href="https://www.counterpunch.org/author/ramzy-baroud/"
              rel="nofollow">Ramzy Baroud</a> - August 3, 2020<br>
          </span></div>
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              <p>As illegal Jewish settlers increase their attacks on
                Palestinian civilians in the occupied city of Al Khalil
                (Hebron), the people of the Palestinian city continue to
                mount a campaign of popular resistance.</p>
              <p>One of the channels of resistance is <a
href="https://www.facebook.com/pg/Human-Rights-Defenders-%D8%AA%D8%AC%D9%85%D8%B9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%B9%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%B9%D9%86-%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86-727496507326993/posts/">Human
                  Rights Defenders</a>, “a grass-roots, non-partisan
                Palestinian organization, working to support nonviolent
                popular resistance through popular direct action and
                documentation of human rights violations committed by
                the Occupation.”</p>
              <p>To understand the situation in Hebron better, I <a
                  href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIi9dX74vpU">spoke</a>
                to Badee Dwaik, head of ‘Human Rights Defenders’, Raghad
                Neiroukh, a journalist, and Flora Thomas, a British
                solidarity activist.</p>
              <p>The conversation included another member of HRD, <a
href="https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/ongoing-threats-and-harassment-against-imad-abu-shamsiyya">Imad
                  Abu Shamsiyah</a>, the courageous activist who filmed
                the murder of Palestinian young man, Abdul Fattah
                al-Sharif.</p>
              <p>On March 24, 2016, Israeli army medic, Elor Azaria, <a
href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/02/elor-azaria-18-months-palestinian-killing-170221083609252.html">killed</a>
                al-Sharif in cold blood in Hebron. The Israeli army
                later claimed that al-Sharif, and another Palestinian,
                tried to stab an Israeli soldier.</p>
              <p>The murder was rightly dubbed ‘extrajudicial execution’
                by human rights organizations. Under international
                pressure, Israel tried Azaria in court, sentencing him
                to eighteen months’ imprisonment, but eventually
                released him fourteen months later, to <a
                  href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh_8Y4fwG1I">be
                  received</a> as a hero by many Israeli politicians,
                his family and ordinary people.</p>
              <p>I asked Abu Shamsiyah about the events that took place
                on that day, when he had personally witnessed and filmed
                the execution of the Palestinian young man.</p>
              <p>“It was about 8 o’clock in the morning and I was having
                coffee with my wife. I heard the sound of shooting
                outside, very close to my house,” Abu Shamsiyah began.</p>
              <p>“I immediately went out to see what was going on, and
                my wife followed me. She brought the camera with her.</p>
              <p>“I found out that a person was lying in the street. He
                was wearing a black t-shirt and trousers.”</p>
              <p>“I saw that there was also another person on the
                ground. I moved my camera to capture him on film and
                noticed that he was bleeding from his face.”</p>
              <p>“I observed a few Israeli soldiers approaching one of
                the people on the ground; they were very close to me.”</p>
              <p>“I realized that Abdul Fattah al-Sharif was a
                Palestinian only when I saw an Israeli soldier kicking
                him.”</p>
              <p>“When the Israeli soldier kicked him, al-Sharif moved
                both of his legs and his hands; and I <a
                  href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8WK2TgruMo&feature=emb_title">captured</a>
                this with my camera.”</p>
              <p>“At that moment, my wife started shouting, saying:
                ‘Haram, haram,’ and tried to help the wounded young
                man.”</p>
              <p>“When the soldiers heard her screams, they noticed our
                presence in the street. So they forced us to leave the
                street; they chased us away.”</p>
              <p>“I went home but I began to think of another way to
                continue filming. I climbed on to the roof of a
                neighbor’s house and resumed filming the execution.”</p>
              <p>“I saw an Israeli ambulance arriving in the area, but
                it didn’t go towards al-Sharif; instead, it went towards
                the other person who was still lying on the ground. Only
                then, I realized that the other person was, in fact, an
                Israeli soldier.”</p>
              <p>“So I zoomed in the camera to capture a better image of
                the soldier, who (looked as if) slightly injured. The
                ambulance gave him first aid and treated him, while they
                denied any treatment to al-Sharif and the other wounded
                Palestinian.”</p>
              <p>“They carried the Israeli soldier into the ambulance; I
                zoomed in again, and he was already standing; as I said
                before, he was (clearly) only slightly injured.”</p>
              <p>“The ambulance began to turn around to leave the area.
                It was then that I heard the sound of one of the
                soldiers loading his gun. He got closer and closer to
                where al-Sharif was (still lying down). When he was
                about one meter away, he pointed the gun at al-Sharif’s
                head.”</p>
              <p>“Al-Sharif did not pose any threat to the soldier,
                whose name was revealed later in the media to be Elor
                Azaria. It was Azaria who shot the wounded Palestinian
                in the head.”</p>
              <p>“I was still filming, and one of the Jewish settlers,
                who noticed me, told the soldiers about me. One of the
                soldiers turned towards me and ordered me to leave the
                area, but I was already leaving because I had filmed the
                entire scene.”</p>
              <p>“I immediately went to the ‘Human Rights Defenders’,
                where I uploaded the video and many people watched it.”</p>
              <p>“Israeli soldiers kill Palestinians in cold blood,
                while accusing Palestinians of trying to stab soldiers.”</p>
              <p>Following the incident and, throughout Azaria’s trial,
                Abu Shamsiyah and his family experienced much <a
href="https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/ongoing-threats-and-harassment-against-imad-abu-shamsiyya">harassment</a>
                by the Israeli army for revealing the truth that Israel
                wishes to keep hidden: the brutality of its soldiers,
                and the intrinsic relationship between the occupation
                army and the illegal Jewish settlers.</p>
              <p>Speaking to Abu Shamsiyah four years after the tragic
                death of al-Sharif, the Palestinian activist remains
                steadfast in his belief that the ongoing Israeli human
                rights violations must be exposed. His voice conveys
                determination, not hesitation nor fear.</p>
              <p>‘Human Rights Defenders’, like many other Palestinian
                groups, continues to channel and guide the popular
                resistance of the Palestinian people in Hebron and many
                towns and villages across Palestine. They are a
                testament to the resolve of Palestinian society – brave,
                steadfast and unbroken.</p>
            </div>
            <p> <em>Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The
                Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His
                latest is “</em><a
href="https://www.amazon.com/These-Chains-Will-Broken-Palestinian/dp/1949762092"><em>These
                  Chains Will Be Broken</em></a><em>: Palestinian
                Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons”
                (Clarity Press, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident
                Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and
                Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU).
                His website is </em><a
                href="http://www.ramzybaroud.net/"><em>www.ramzybaroud.net</em></a>
            </p>
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