Zeid al-Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, published a condemnation claiming the protester did not pose a threat so there was no justification for his death. The Guardian published the story under the title “'A shocking and wanton act': Israel accused over death of wheelchair user”. The Telegraph reported “How a dead man in a wheelchair became a symbol of Palestinian anger over Donald Trump’s Jerusalem decision”.
Israel gave a different version of events. According to the IDF’s investigation, “Riot control equipment was used in the protest area. A few live rounds were fired towards the main instigators. Troops received approval prior to shooting each round by a senior commander in the field. No live fire was aimed at Abu Thuraya”.
In reports worldwide, Abu Thuraya has been described as an innocent victim, having lost his legs as a result of an Israeli bombing during Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and as a protester brutally shot without any justification.
However, new information recently uncovered, makes the story questionable. Tomer Ilan, an Israeli activist, has researched Abu Thuraya’s history and found that his family members have reported to the media on his last words the day before the protest. Russia Today reports he told his family, “Brother, forgive me. This is the last night you will see me. And you, my mother, forgive me, and you my sisters, you all forgive me... He kissed the hand and the leg of my father and said to him: Father, forgive me. This is the last night you will see me, as I intend to be a martyr. I am bored of this life, I have no legs and I have nothing. I want to die and rest from life.” Mondoweiss quotes similar a testimony by a family member.
Abu Thuraya’s alleged injury as an innocent civilian by an IDF bombing on his home in 2008, has also been found to be totally inaccurate. The Independent reported in 2005 that Abu Thuraya, a Fatah Force 17 member, was shot in the leg, in fighting between Hamas and Fatah. His membership in Fatah’s Force 17 is also reported in the 2010 book “Hamas: The Islamic Resistance Movement” By Beverley Milton-Edwards, Stephen Farrell“.
A Palestinian website reports he was injured again and lost his legs in April 2008 in battle with the IDF, as a Hamas combatant, 8 months before Operation Cast Lead.
The circumstances of Abu Thuraya’s death last week remain unclear. His past as a terrorist may not be related to the protest in which he was killed. However, in stark contrast to worldwide media reports, he was not an innocent civilian but a member of terrorist groups Force 17 and later Hamas, was injured twice while serving these groups, and went to last Friday’s protest in order to die as a “martyr”.
Ben-Dror Yemini is the author of "INDUSTRY OF LIES – Media, Academia, and the Middle East Conflict"