Israeli Forces Tie Wounded Palestinian Man To Vehicle’s Hood During West Bank Raid

Israeli forces tied a wounded Palestinian man to an armored vehicle’s hood as they drove through the occupied West Bank during a raid this weekend – an incident a United Nations expert described as an example of the military using Palestinian civilians as human shields, an accusation the U.S. and Israel have repeatedly made against Palestinian militants like Hamas.

Video that went viral on Saturday showed a jeep belonging to the Israeli military driving through the streets of Jenin, a city in the northern West Bank that continues to face military raids and settler violence. Soldiers with the Israeli Defense Force tied a visibly bloodied Palestinian man on the hood of one of their armored vehicles, as shown in the video.

The man has since been identified as Jenin resident Mujahed Azmi. The video was verified by Al Jazeera, Reuters and Anadolu, and later confirmed by the Israeli military itself.

Israeli forces on Saturday were conducting a raid in Jenin when they wounded Azmi, the man’s family told Reuters. Soldiers first shot him in the hand, then fired another bullet into his leg after he fell to the ground behind the military vehicle parked in front of his house, Azmi said Sunday.

“As soon as the soldiers arrived, they stepped on my head. They stepped on my head while I was wounded. They hit me in the face, kicked me, hit me on the wound in my leg, and twisted my injured hand,” he told Al Jazeera while hospitalized. “Every bone was broken. They completely broke the bones in my hand and leg, and they laughed and played while they beat me.”

When the family asked for an ambulance to take Azmi to a hospital, the IDF instead took him, strapped him onto the jeep’s hood and drove off, they said.

“Two of the soldiers grabbed my hands and two others my feet, and started waving me back and forth and throwing me into the front of the military car, but I fell to the ground. They picked me up again and threw me into the front of the military car, and I can’t describe the temperature of the bonnet of the car,” Azmi told Al Jazeera, which translated his remarks from Arabic to English.

“I stayed there for about a quarter of an hour,” he continued. “They move the car backwards and forwards, and after a quarter of an hour they got me off the bonnet of the military car.”

Israeli forces initially would not allow crews with the Palestine Red Crescent to administer first aid to Azmi or take him to a hospital, the humanitarian group said.

“The jeep passed by, and the injured man was on the hood. One arm was tied to the windshield, and the other arm was on his abdomen,” ambulance driver Abdulraouf Mustafa said, according to an Arabic-to-English translation by Al Jazeera. “They drove past us and refused to give us the patient.”

The IDF eventually transferred Azmi so that Red Crescent crews could get him medical care at a hospital in Jenin.

“What happened is another scene of the daily crimes committed by the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian people, particularly against those who are in custody,” Abdullah al-Zagari, director of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, told Anadolu.

A spokesperson for the IDF described the incident to HuffPost as soldiers exchanging gunfire with Palestinians they alleged were “terrorists.” It is unclear exactly how the involved Palestinians were terror suspects, given that Hamas – the armed militant group Israel has vowed to destroy – operates in Gaza, not the occupied West Bank.

“During the exchange of fire, one of the suspects was injured and apprehended. In violation of orders and standard operating procedures, the suspect was taken by the forces while tied on top of a vehicle,” the spokesperson said about Azmi. “The conduct of the forces in the video of the incident does not conform to the values of the IDF.”

The IDF said the incident will be investigated and “dealt with accordingly,” though the Israeli military has a lengthy record of failing to adequately investigate itself and hold members accountable for unethical behavior.

According to Anadolu, witnesses suggested that Israeli forces used Azmi “as a human shield to exit the area without being exposed to explosives or gunfire from resistance fighters.” Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories who released a report earlier this year accusing Israel of committing genocide, also described the Saturday incident as “human shielding in action.”

“It is flabbergasting how a state born 76 years ago has managed to turn international law literally on its head,” Albanese said in a social media post. “This risks being the end of multilateralism, which for some influential member states no longer serves any relevant purpose.”

The occupied West Bank has faced hostility from the IDF and Israelis living in the territory’s illegal settlements for decades, but the violence against Palestinian residents has skyrocketed since Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7 that resulted in Israel’s ongoing massive retaliation campaign. Israeli forces have killed more than 37,000 people in Gaza – where most of the military’s offensive is focused – and at least 553 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to health officials.

The U.S. government under President Joe Biden has provided nearly unwavering public financial and diplomatic support for Israel in its military offensives, though the president has on several occasions warned the Israeli government of consequences should soldiers and settlers continue attacking Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Since Oct. 7, the U.S. has imposed sanctions on a handful of Israeli settlers in the territory.

The State Department did not immediately answer HuffPost’s questions on the Saturday incident, including whether the agency would describe it as an example of human shields, and if not, would they change their answer if it were Palestinian militants tying an Israeli civilian to the hood of their vehicle.

Israeli forces arrested at least 20 more Palestinians in military raids on the West Bank as of Sunday, bringing the total detained in the territory since Oct. 7 to 9,345, according to the Commission of Detainees’ Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoner Society.