A young Palestinian man who was shot in the back by Israeli forces in an incident caught on video last year says the footage shows just a small part of what was a horrifying day for him.
Speaking to The Associated Press after the video emerged last week, Karam Qawasmi said he was run over by a military jeep, then beaten for several hours before troops released him, only to shoot him in the back with a painful sponge-tipped bullet as he walked away. He said Israeli investigators have never contacted him.
“I died several times that day,” he said in an interview at his home in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. “They tortured me in a way that I felt they are killing me. And when they shot me, I felt it’s my end. I closed my eyes and prayed.”
Palestinians often charge that Israeli security forces use excessive or unnecessary force against them. But incriminating video evidence is rare, making such claims hard to prove.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast War and has kept it under military occupation for over 50 years. While the Palestinian Authority has limited autonomy in parts of the territory, Israel wields overall security control.
The incident occurred a year and a half ago, but only came to public attention last week, when Israel’s Channel 13 TV broadcast a leaked video of the shooting, allegedly carried out by a member of the Israeli paramilitary border police unit.
In the video, a woman is heard screaming at a young Palestinian man to “get out of here” as he slowly walks away with his hands in the air. A male voice tells him to lower his hands as the woman again shouts at him. Some 20 seconds later, a shot is heard as the man crumples to the ground, screaming in pain.
The shooter is not seen in the video, which appears to have been taken by a member of the security force.
Qawasmi, 22, said that he was the man in the video, saying his troubles began early on the morning of May 25, 2018.
He said he had recently completed his accounting studies at a technical college. With few jobs available in the West Bank, he set out from his home in Hebron to the West Bank town of Azayim, outside of Jerusalem, in hopes of finding work at a gas station.