Got a bullet in the face from a paratroopers unit
All day we search houses and kill children’
- Extract from a song of an Israeli paratroopers’ unit that participated in Operation Calm Waters in Nablus, beginning of 2004.
On 16 September 2005, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot published an interview with the commander of the IDF paratroopers unit that came up with that song. “Commander R” described the extraordinarily permissive open-fire rules under which his unit operated when they were based in Nablus, which on some nights mandated the killing of any Palestinian who happened to be seen on the street:
“There were many nights on which we received orders that whoever we see on the street between two and four in the morning is sentenced to death [dino mavet]. Those were the exact words…”
"The Baker” whose death provided such a source of amusement for the Israeli soldiers who killed him was a 25-year-old Palestinian named Ala Adin Masud Adawiya. He was walking to his job at the a-Silawi Bakery in Nablus at about 3:00am on 18 December 2003 when he was shot once by an IDF sniper, then eight more times from close range as he lay wounded on the ground by IDF soldiers who arrived on the scene in a Jeep to “confirm the kill”. Adawiya was shot because, unbeknown to him, he was walking to work on one of the nights when soldier R’s paratroop unit had received orders that whoever we see on the street between two and four in the morning is sentenced to death…
Of the six codenames Commander R’s unit assigned to the people they killed, “The Baker” is the easiest to identify, and the circumstances of his death are easiest to reconstruct, largely because the unusual brutality of his death attracted the attention of human rights groups and international journalists. He was killed in an IDF operation called Calm Waters, which ran from 16 December 2003 to 6 January 2004, the purpose of which was ostensibly to capture one wanted man, Naif Sharekh. Nineteen Palestinians were killed in the course of the operation, fifteen of them (including Adawiya) were unarmed civilians, six of them were children. There were indications that two of the dead (again, including Adawiya) had been killed execution style when they were already wounded, and this is what prompted journalists and civil rights groups to investigate the deaths. It is because of their involvement that we know much more about the death of Ala Adawiya than we do about most Palestinians killed by the IDF.
In addition to that of the paratrooper R, who was involved with the sniper team that fired the first shot, eyewitness testimony is available from a second IDF soldier who watched the killing from the house opposite the sniper's nest; also from a 50-year-old Palestinian woman, As’ad Hanun, who lived in the house in front of which Ala Adawiya was killed; and from Adnan Soso, the ambulance driver who was summoned after the first shot was fired. These last three witnesses all saw the “confirmation of kill” procedure carried out.
The incident began when the IDF sniper team used the "worm procedure" to tunnel their way undetected to the house they intended to use as their sniper position. This is the trail they left behind the through neighboring houses when they left the following morning:
(Photo: al-Ayyam, 18 Dec 2003; via al-jazeerah.net)
Soldier R testifies:
That night we took over a house in an excellent position, and about four in the morning the sharpshooters’ position identified a man walking with a bag. I saw him on Jami’at al-Kabir Street with the bag in his hand. I went down to report, and the sniper, a friend of mine, was on duty. I reported to the commander who reports to the company commander. The order was ‘take him down.’ And so a man fell, 70 metres from his house.
That shot wounded Ala Adawiya in the chest, and woke As’ad Hanun, who called an ambulance. The ambulance arrived within three minutes, at which point Adawiya was still conscious, sitting up, and calling out that he was hurt. A jeep drew up from the nearby IDF command post, and stopped a few metres from where Ala Adawiya was sitting. Over the course of the next several minutes, the soldiers inside fired 8-10 individual shots at Adawiya, then dropped two grenades on the body, to ensure he was dead.
Having checked the contents of Adawiya's bag, which was found to contain nothing more dangerous than some floured-dusted clothing and pita bread, the soldiers permitted Adnan Soso to remove the body to Rafidia Hospital. Upon arrival, it was examined by Dr Samir Abu Zarour, who reported that Ala Adawiya had been shot between eight and 10 times, including twice in the face and once in the testicles, and had a series of fragmentation wounds in his legs.
Further information on the killing of Ala Adawiya is available here.
Photo: T-shirt printed for members of the IDF's Haruv Battalion, reads: "We Won't Chill Till We Confirm The Kill".
Source (via Mondoweiss): Dead Palestinian babies and bombed mosques - IDF fashion 2009 (Ha'aretz):
In many cases, the content is submitted for approval to one of the unit's commanders. The latter, however, do not always have control over what gets printed, because the artwork is a private initiative of soldiers that they never hear about. Drawings or slogans previously banned in certain units have been approved for distribution elsewhere. For example, shirts declaring, "We won't chill 'til we confirm the kill" were banned in the past (the IDF claims that the practice doesn't exist), yet the Haruv battalion printed some last year.