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New Blood Libel: The Case of the “Murdered” Palestinian Farmer

Antisemites, Israel haters and palestinian news sites have been spreading a story about a palestinian famer who was gunned down by settlers while just minding his business and working his land.

The palestinian Maan News agency of course adopted this version of events, but did mention the Israeli account of what happened:

A Palestinian farmer was shot dead by Israeli settlers on Thursday while he was working on his land near the village of Qusra, to the south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, according to local sources.

An official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank told Ma’an that Israeli settlers from the illegal Yash Kod settlement outpost raided Palestinian lands near Qusra and attacked a farmer, Mahmoud Ahmad Zaal Odeh, 48, as he was working the land.

According to locals, Odeh attempted to prevent the settlers from entering his land, at which point, the settlers opened fire on him, shooting him in the chest. He succumbed to his wounds shortly after he was shot.

Another Palestinian identified as Fayez Fathi Hasan, 47, was injured in the leg by the settlers’ fire.

Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces detained Odeh’s son and took him to the Huwwara military base nearby, and have not yet returned Odeh’s body to his family.

Shortly after the deadly attack, Israeli forces raided and surrounded the village to protect the settlers, preventing all Palestinian movement in the area.

An Israeli army spokesperson told a completely different account of the events to Ma’an, saying that “earlier this morning 20 Israeli civilians were travelling near the village of Qusra southeast of nablus,” not specifying if the settlers were on foot, or why they were on the farmlands in the first place.

“During the trip, Palestinians threw rocks at the group, and in response, one of the travellers fired towards the Palestinians, and one was injured.”

“The travelers entrenched themselves in a cave,” the spokesperson said, adding that shortly after, Israeli army troops arrived in the area to protect the settlers.

The spokesperson added that the “incident” will be investigated by the army.

When faced with opposing accounts, I am usually skeptical of the palestinian one, for the sole reason that their track record in lying is very impressive. But I always endeavor to be intellectually honest, and try and work out who is telling the truth, based on the available information, looking at things like plausibility and inconsistencies in the accounts.

In this case, the palestinians made a huge error. They posted a video that aligns with the IDF version that the Israelis were trapped in a cave. Not only that, but the video shows they were mostly children!

According to the Jerusalem Post:

A Palestinian farmer was killed, two Israeli fathers were wounded, and a group of 20 schoolboys were ambushed in a cave during a series of violent incidents that broke out Thursday morning in the Samaria region of the West Bank.

The two fathers told the media that Palestinians attacked the group with stones and boulders near the village of Kusra during a hike to help celebrate the bar mitzva of one of the boys, Avitzur.

The two men had guns to protect the group, and one of them said he fired in self-defense at the Palestinians.

“We were in danger of our lives,” one of the fathers said.

The IDF concurred, adding that the shot was fatal.

Palestinian sources identified the farmer as Mahmoud Udah, 48, from the village of Kusra, near Nablus.

But Kusra residents said he was killed while working in his field. It was only then that the villagers learned that there was a group of children and attacked them in the aftermath of his death, they said.

The IDF and the police are investigating the matter.

The IDF said in a statement that the group was “hiking near the village of Kusra.

During the trip, a disturbance broke out near the village involving dozens of Palestinians, during which one of the hikers shot at the rioters in self-defense. The hikers barricaded themselves in a cave near the village. IDF arrived at the site and rescued all the hikers. One of the rioters was hit by gunfire.” The IDF gave him medical treatment at the scene, but the man died from his wounds, the statement said.

Both of the fathers were lightly wounded. They were taken by ambulance to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva and later provided testimony to the police.

Avitzur spoke to the media outside of Beilinson Hospital.

He described how the adults split up. One adult outside tried to keep the Palestinians away and sought help from the army, while the other one was with the boys in the cave.

Palestinians came to the cave “and attacked us,” the teary-eyed boy said. They stole the gun from the adult in the cave and hit him in the head with a stone. The Palestinians stole their cellphones and used pepper spray against them, he said. “They yelled at us and said they would kill us.”

When the soldiers arrived, they tried to disperse the Palestinians.

Now let’s analyze.

Part One: Plausibility

The palestinians claim “settlers..raided Palestinian lands near Qusra and attacked a farmer” who was working his land. What we know is these “settlers” were 2 men and 20 schoolboys. It makes absolutely no sense to me that two men would bring 20 children along to raid someone’s farmland for fun, and then put their life in danger by attacking a farmer for no reason. Based on my experience, they are not only not murderers, but also love their children more than life itself.

I have no doubt this was a hike per the IDF version, and that the group was attacked by palestinians. I also believe the shooting was in self-defense. Plus looking at the video of the group trapped in the cave with the palestinians outside looks very much like an attempted lynching.

Not only that, but the palestinians admit attacking the children! Even though they claim it was after the supposed unprovoked murder of the farmer, what kind of person would attack children?

Part Two: Inconsistencies

From the Al Jazeera report on the incident:

However, Yariv Mohar, a spokesperson for the activist group Rabbis for Human Rights – which collected numerous testimonies from locals about the killing – said Odeh was shot after an altercation with settlers while caring for his olive groves with his six-year-old son.

After Odeh was shot, his son called another resident in the village, prompting other Palestinians to arrive on the scene and throw rocks at the Israelis in an attempt to push them out of the area, the group said.

At this time the armed Israeli opened fire again, injuring another Palestinian.

In the version reported by the Jerusalem Post, palestinians said they threw rocks at the Israelis after the supposed murder of the farmer, clearly in anger. Yet here, they claim they had a strategy in mind – to push the Israelis out of the area.

Not only that, but in this version, the farmer’s six-year-old son was with him. Why would the palestinians not have mentioned that to Ma’an, given the “sympathy” points that would elicit?

Based on all of this, I call BS, but am willing to wait until after the IDF investigation to pronounce this 100%.

What is 100% clear is on whose side the mainstream media is. Exhibit A, the BBC:

Palestinian shot dead by Israeli settler in West Bank
A Palestinian man has been shot and killed by an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank, officials say.

There are conflicting reports about the circumstances surrounding the incident near the village of Qusra.

Israel’s military said the settler had opened fired in self-defence after Palestinians threw rocks at a group of hiking settlers and students.

But Palestinian officials said the dead man was a farmer who had been working his land when settlers attacked him.

A UN agency that monitors incidents said earlier this year that an increase in settler violence had occurred alongside a major rise in Palestinian attacks against Israelis, the vast majority of which involved stone-throwing at vehicles.

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Update: An interview with one of the Israeli kids.


About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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