Was Nilin Shooting Doctored? Jonathan D.Halevi

New findings suggest that the video tape published by Btselem was intentionally edited and scenes were omitted

A joint investigation conducted by the physicist Nahum Shahaf and the undersigned has revealed new findings in the shooting incident in Nilin more than two years ago. On July 20, 2008, Btselem, the human rights organization, published an approximately one minute video clip documenting an Israeli soldier shooting a rubber bullet from very close range at a Palestinian handcuffed and blindfolded detainee named Ashraf Abu Rahma.

The impact of the pictures was overwhelming worldwide. The Israeli commander at the scene, Lt. Col. Omri Borberg, was accused of giving the order to the soldier to shoot the Palestinian detainee as a punishment for his involvement in a violent demonstration in the village of Nilin, southwest of Ramallah. Both officer and soldier were recently convicted by an Israeli court. Lt.

Col. Borberg was found guilty in his attempt to terrorize the detainee by asking the soldier to make a noise of preparing his gun for shooting and the soldier by unlawfully using his gun and endangering the life of the detainee.

Several key questions were discussed in Shahaf and Halevi’s investigation. Was Ashraf Abu Rahma indeed injured by the shooting or by a ricochet as a result of the shooting? Did Lt. Col. Borberg order the soldier to shoot at Abu Rahma or at his vicinity? The findings of the investigation are supported by analysis of videotape submitted by Btselem to court as the prime evidence, open-source materials, dialogue with lawyers representing the defendants and court documents.

Who handed the video cassette to Btselem?

The shooting incident occurred on July 7, 2008. Btselem disseminated a short version of it to the media on July 20. In an official announcement, Btselem explained that the video was shot by a female teenager named Salam Kanaan, but did not disclosed from whom the video cassette was received (Salam, her family members, residents of Nilin, foreign activists). Salam Kanaan told the Israeli court that the video cassette was handed to a female Swedish activist before it was transferred to Btselem. In an interview, she said that the video cassette was handed to the Swedish activist on July 19, a day before its final release to the media. Najib Abu Roqiya, Btselem’s investigation coordinator in the West Bank, told Israel’s Channel One that Btselem was first familiar with the video tape only on July 20. According Abu Roqiya, the Palestinian male photographer, who had no previous connection to Btselem, belatedly contacted the organization and told about the video documented incident.

Main findings of the video analysis by Nahum Shahaf

Physician Nahum Shahaf determined unequivocally in his official affidavit that Ashraf Abu Rahma was not injured by direct hit of the rubber bullet or a ricochet. His conclusion is based on a geometric analysis of the ricochet’s

trajectory as spotted in several frames and the angel of the gun barrel. The convergence of both angels indicates that rubber bullet hit the sidewalk about six meters behind the Palestinian detainee and in a distance of about 30 to 40 centimeters from his left side of his body. Abu Rahma was standing at the time of the shooting on the road and the bullet hit the sidewalk which is higher than the road by about 15 centimeters. These facts exclude any possibility that Abu Rahama could have been injured in his right side of his left toe, as he claimed just after the shooting and testified in court.

It should be noted that Dr. Arik Baltaskia, who was summoned to check Abu Rahma at the scene, noted that he did not find any signs of fracture, bleeding or irreversible damage and determined that the blow couldn’t have been a direct result of the shooting. The Israeli court described Abu Rahma’s testimony regarding the event as “confusing and embedded with contradictions”.

Shahaf added that the pictures from shortly after the shooting are extremely blurry. However, in one of these frames Abu Rhama is identified standing with his left leg on the sidewalk less than a half of a second after he is seen standing on the road. Physiologically, Abu Rahma’s movement in 0.36 of a second is impossible. For example, the average reaction of a driver to a sudden event on the road is 0.7 of a second. Moreover, Shahaf noted that two voices of the shooting are heard and the main shooting voice appears also after the break in the video and when Abu Rahma was lying on the pavement.

Analysis of the video cassette leads Shahaf to the conclusions that the video clip contains edited and doctored pictures and that the pictures of the dust cloud generated by the hit of the bullet were cut, probably to conceal the fact that Abu Rahma was not being injured by the shooting.

The transcription of the video tape raises suspicion of indented doctoring

The videotape was submitted to court as the prime evidence, but neither side presented its transcription and the judges never asked for it. The conversation recorded is highly important for unfolding the circumstances of the event. The videotape was recorded from a room in Salam Kanaan’s family house. Few family members are heard talking after the shooting. An elder woman asks: “Who hit the second one?” and Salam answers: “The soldier who is besides the soldier that shot”, meaning Lt. Col. Borberg. A few seconds later, Salam says: “I wish you have seen how the soldier was beaten”. A male, probably her brother Ghaleb, asks her: “Did you record it?” and Salam replies: “Yes” and says that the pictures were good. Then the male says: “We’ll watch it on the camera” and asks Salam who hit the soldier. Salam explains again that “The second soldier arrived and hit him, the guy who had no barrette hit the soldier who shot.”

This content of the conversation between Salam and her brother does not appear in the short video clip that Btselem published. It clearly supports Lt. Col. Borberg’s testimony that he was furious and hit the soldier after the shooting and that he never gave any order to shoot at the Palestinian detainee. From unknown reason, the reaction of Lt. Col. Borberg that was filmed by Salam, is not seen in the videotape submitted by Btselem to Military Investigative Police.

Another peculiar issue is related to Salam contradicting versions given in an attempt to explain the short break in the video after the shooting. She is heard in the videotape saying that she turned off the camera out of panic. In her testimony in court, she argued that the camera fell out of her hand and in an interview he said that she kept filming with shaky hands and later gave the camera to her brother. All three versions may have different affect of the filming: immediate cut, capturing the way till the camera hit the floor and shaky pictures.

Reactions to the new findings

Lawyer Shlomo Tzipori announced on behalf of his client Lt. Col. Borberg that he intends to officially ask the legal adviser of the Israeli government to open an investigation in order to find who is responsible for doctoring the videotape. Btselem told Channel 10 that these arguments are “groundless and hallucinatory” and that the organization “is willing to cooperate with any professional and independent investigation of the video tape.”

The Palestinian Lying Industry Manifactures new lies

The Palestinian propaganda is built on rewriting history and lies.

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters (without spaces) shown in the image.