Within 48 hours of Yahya Atta Rayahin Bani Minnah’s death, the official Israeli statement on the cause of death changed considerably. As documented in previous report, the Israeli army physician who was present at the scene of the murder told the mayor of Aqraba, Mr Jabr, directly that the wounds were caused by M16 bullets. This was confirmed in official statements from the Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld, who is reported as saying:
“The body of a Bedouin youth was found by one of his family members. (Israeli) police have opened an investigation after a forensic examination showed he had been shot,”
He then went on to say that:
“We are examining the bullets and type of gun, trying to find out who was behind (the shooting). Everything is open at the moment.”
On the morning of Monday 29 September, however, Israeli police issued a press release stating that the autopsy carried out by the Abu Kadir Institute – an institution whose reputation has been marred by allegations of organ sales and false reporting – claimed the wounds were the result of a “rifle grenade”explosion.
“The autopsy showed the shepherd was killed from shrapnel from an explosion and not from gunshots,” spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
“Investigations at the scene confirmed that the young man was killed by the explosion of a rifle grenade which he handled and that he either found there or was given to him,” he added.
This about-face in the Israeli police version of events followed a wave of media reports in the wake of the murder, regarding the “crisis” that the increase in settler violence in the West Bank is causing for the Government, with MKs fighting over the issue. This problem is conveniently resolved, however, by the “no-fault” finding that appeared seemingly miraculously.
Such changes in official Israeli police and military statements are extremely common in cases of settler and Israeli military attacks on Palestinians.
The villages of Asira al Qibliya, Burin and Madama to the south of Nablus have also seen rampages by settlers and extreme violence in recent weeks. Settlers have also been responsible for the burning of vital olive trees that are the economic lifeline for many villages in the West Bank. With the olive harvest due to start in the next few weeks in these areas, and the refusal by the Israeli army to adequately protect villagers, it is vitally important for an international presence.
For more information on the ISM Olive Harvest Campaign 2008 click here