Claim of 'extrajudicial killing’ of Palestinian rebutted

Ahmad Erekat was shot by Israeli soldiers last June after his car crashed into West Bank checkpoint


The Israeli thinktank NGO Monitor has dismissed claims made by a London-based research group that the killing of a Palestinian whose car crashed into a West Bank checkpoint was an “extrajudicial execution”. 

Forensic Architecture disputes the Israeli police account that Ahmad Erekat, 26, who was shot by Israeli soldiers between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in June, had deliberately plunged the vehicle into the checkpoint. 

But NGO Monitor discounted the report by Forensic Architecture’s Palestine Unit and the Palestinian human rights group Al Haq as “based on speculation”. 

The report says that use of “3d-modelling, shadow analysis and open-source investigation” to analyse video footage and witness accounts of the footage raise doubts about official Israeli claims. 

According to the family of Mr Erekat, a nephew of the late Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat, was “driving to run errands for his sister’s wedding” taking place that day, the Forensic Architecture report says. 

His car veered into a booth at the checkpoint and hit a soldier. He was shot after getting out. 

“The military claimed that it was an intentional attack, but produced no evidence that the crash was not the result of an error or a vehicle malfunction,” the report says. 

There was no attempt to speed up as the car approached the checkpoint, it says. “The low speed of impact despite the sharp slope, the correction of the car’s path after initially veering to the left, and the possibility that Ahmad braked before impact all raise doubts that this was an intentional attack.” 

It says that after the crash, “Ahmad leaves the vehicle unarmed and moves away from the soldiers, raising his hands in the air”. 

It also disputes an Israeli army statement that he received medical care “within minutes”. 

The report commented that “Ahmad’s extrajudicial execution took place at a time of global black-led protests against racist police brutality. 

“In this context, his killing illustrates both the entangled struggles of Palestinian and black liberation.” 

In response, NGO Monitor said that “rather than offering new or concrete evidence, it is clear that NGOs cannot know and do not incorporate the assessments of the Israeli forces on the ground.  

“The NGO accusers are unable to provide answers to the fundamental questions required to prove their assertions: What were the officers at the checkpoint thinking in the split seconds of the attack? Is their response different than how any other reasonable person would act?” 

The entire analysis, NGO Monitor said, was “based on speculation. For instance, Al-Haq and Forensic Architecture claim, based on slow motion and still frame analysis, that the incident was ‘the result of an error or a vehicle malfunction’ and ‘raise doubts that this was an intentional attack.’ 

“They do not know, and that issue is irrelevant to the questions of whether the soldiers credibly perceived the ramming as a terror attack.” 

There was also “contradictory information” about “the position of Erekat’s arms when he was first shot,” NGO Monitor said.

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