Normally, the footage featured on this blog is serious, heartbreaking, or unsettling. But this time, we can breathe a sigh of relief.
Last Friday, a large truck tire rolled down a wide street toward an Israeli patrol in the West Bank village of Beit Ummar. A group of Palestinian men filmed the tire as it bounced off of a curb and continued down the road toward four soldiers walking in front of an armored Israeli military vehicle.
One soldier attempted to knock the tire over with a large rock although he missed entirely. Another soldier attempted to kick the tire to the ground but misjudged the tire’s speed and lost his balance, only to hit the ground with his back turned to the jeering crowd.
We aren’t featuring this footage to make light of the occupation or to implicitly ignore the presence of the soldiers in the village in the first place. Although it seemed as if everyone in Beit Ummar broke into loud cheers when the soldier fell, our attention is turned to the soldier’s immediate response to the situation.
After standing up and turning back around toward the camera, he pointed his rifle at the presumably unarmed onlookers. Fortunately no shots were fired, and Beit Ummar is relieved to report that no one was killed.
But to Palestinians living under occupation, this is considered a stroke of good luck. Beit Ummar has seen its share of ruthless assaults. Just this past March, Israeli soldiers stormed a funeral and injured over two dozen mourners with live ammuniation, gas grenades, and sound grenades. Among them, Mohamed Abu Ayyash, 15, was shot in the head, and Omar Zaaqiq was shot in the chest.
Miles away near Israel’s Ofer prison, two Palestinian teens were gunned down by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration against illegal land confiscation. Neither teen was armed or threatening the safety of anyone in the area.
Still, they were killed for no justifiable reason. So when the foot soldier in Beit Ummar raised his weapon, it was only natural to anticipate the worst. The chance that the next day’s headlines would be about a Palestinian fatally shot over a rogue tire significantly increased during that brief moment.