How Israeli forces fired repeatedly into a group of civilians


Israeli security forces in an armored vehicle fired repeatedly into a group of civilians sheltering between a mosque and a clinic after a Feb. 22 raid in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, killing two people, including a teenager, and wounding three others, according to witnesses and a visual reconstruction of the event by The Washington Post.

The Post spoke with two witnesses to the shooting, obtained previously unpublished videos of the incident from a bystander and the Israel Defense Forces, and had audio experts analyze the gunfire. A Post reporter collected visual evidence at the scene to reconstruct the incident using 3D modeling software, and reporters also reviewed more than 30 videos filmed in Nablus that day.

The Post reconstruction shows that, while responding to what they claimed was a gunman, Israeli forces fired at least 14 times from inside their armored vehicle as it moved down a street and then came to a halt next to a short wall behind which the civilians huddled. The Israelis continued firing even after those people would have been visible from the vehicle’s windows, the analysis shows.

“It was a black Wednesday,” said Farid Shaaban, the father of 16-year-old Mohammad Shaaban, who was killed as he waited for a ride home after school. “For Nablus and for my personal history, my family.”

The Israeli military declined to answer detailed questions about the incident but said that soldiers at the scene said a man had fired at their vehicles before running toward the clinic. An Israeli military official said the matter is “under examination.”

Israeli forces killed at least 11 people during and after the raid, including several Palestinian fighters, and wounded 102, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry and social media posts by Palestinian armed groups. The raid came amid a rise in deadly Israeli military incursions unseen in the occupied West Bank since the end of the most recent Palestinian uprising in 2005.

Recent shootings of civilians by Israeli forces have alarmed human rights and advocacy groups, several of which called the events a result of soldiers being given impunity for unlawful violence against Palestinian civilians.

Israeli forces killed 71 Palestinians in the West Bank, including 13 children, between Jan. 1 and March 7, according to the last available figures provided by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Israeli forces killed 146 Palestinians in the West Bank in 2022, and 75 in 2021. At least 14 Israelis have been killed in attacks by Palestinians so far this year.

An official for the Israeli military said their forces do not deliberately target civilians, fire only as a last resort and abide by international law.

The Feb. 22 raid of a house in Nablus began around 9 a.m. and involved 150 members of the Israeli military, border police and internal security service, according to the Israeli military. The operation targeted two members of an armed group called the Lions’ Den and a member of Islamic Jihad who were planning to carry out attacks against Israelis in the “immediate future,” the military said. Israeli forces killed all three men during the rare daylight raid, which set off hours of violence around the city center.

About a third of a mile from the house, the spreading violence stranded several civilians at the Rahma Clinic, on the main road running through Nablus and adjacent to al-Haj Maazouz Mosque. Among those present were the two killed: Shaaban and 65-year-old retiree Abdelaziz Ashqar. Injured were 36-year-old chauffeur Asaad Najjar, 22-year-old Mohammed Samaaneh and a vegetable seller who could not be reached for an interview.

Shaaban, who loved learning languages, had just finished school, his father said. Unable to find a safe ride home, the teen had called his father and was waiting to be picked up. Ashqar, a former employee of the United Nations’ Palestinian refugee agency, had come to the mosque for the afternoon prayer, said his son, Elias. Najjar, who had been driving students to school earlier that day, said he had parked his car nearby to wait for things to calm down and avoid wafting tear gas. Samaaneh, a recent college graduate, had been at the clinic for an examination with a dermatologist, said his father, Hazem. The vegetable seller worked in the area.

A video shot by Najjar at 12:09 p.m. shows Israeli armored vehicles maneuvering in the distance and Palestinian men setting up barricades.

Around 1 p.m., as Israeli forces began to withdraw from the city, a patrol of several vehicles moved toward the clinic and the mosque, looking to head off any armed fighters, a military official said. Having read about a withdrawal on social media, Shaaban, the four men, and a handful of other civilians gathered near the street.

At 1:02 p.m., Farid Shaaban said, he received the call from his son, telling him where to pick the boy up.

What happened next was captured in three videos. Two were previously unpublished — one from a bystander and the other filmed by the Israeli military from inside one of its vehicles. The military posted a partial clip on Twitter on the day of the raid but later provided The Post with an extended version that included the shooting.

At 1:03 p.m., the bystander, standing in a clinic window, began filming the street. In the video, five Israeli armored vehicles pass by. People on the street pelt them with rocks and other objects. About 45 seconds later, more Israeli military vehicles begin to pass, the first an MDT David light armored vehicle and the second a Wolf armored personnel carrier roughly 100 feet behind. A member of the Israeli military filmed the scene from inside a vehicle behind the Wolf.

As the vehicles passed, Firas Masry, a 50-year-old man living in an apartment building across from the clinic, began to film the third video from several floors above. The video was first geolocated by Gabòr Friesen, a student at Leiden University College, and Chris Osieck, a Dutch human rights researcher.

Audio from the videos captures two initial bangs, the second of which can be heard as a man on the sidewalk is seen extending his arm toward the passing Israeli vehicles. The videos reviewed by The Post do not clearly show whether the man had a gun or fired, and none of the witnesses interviewed by The Post said they saw a gunman fire at the Israelis.


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