Conflicting views of fatal Palestinian video

To Palestinians, the video shows a 13-year-old boy being left to die in the street as Israelis shout abuse at him.

To Israelis, it shows a knife attacker bleeding as police keep angry locals back and wait for an ambulance.

The two minutes of amateur footage has become one of the most divisive videos to emerge from a wave of violence sweeping Jerusalem, where clips of attacks are being shared at high speed on social media in what has been dubbed a smartphone intifada.

The problem, as with so much in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is about interpretation.

Palestinians watch the shaky video, with voices in Hebrew shouting “die, son of a bitch”, and draw one set of conclusions that fuel anger.

Israelis watch the same, and subsequent police CCTV footage showing the two Palestinian teenagers running through the streets with knives and attacking an Israeli boy, and come to totally different conclusions.

“Both sides are living in different dimensions,” said Daniel Nisman, a security analyst who runs the Levantine Group. “You can have an incident happen and it’s interpreted in two completely different ways instantly.”

And it is also shared with tens of thousands of people on social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook, where each community’s outrage is reinforced in an echo chamber, driving an ever-deeper wedge between the two sides.

The video in question shows Ahmed Manasra, a Palestinian from Beit Hanina in northern Jerusalem, lying on the street in Pisgat Zeev, a nearby Jewish settlement, with his legs twisted behind him and blood coming from his head after being hit by a car.

It was taken on Monday, minutes after two Israelis, including a boy on a bicycle, were stabbed at a nearby shop. Israeli police have accused Manasra and his 15-year-old cousin of carrying out the attacks. The family has denied they did it.

The footage shows police keeping passersby back while abuse is shouted.

After a minute or so, an ambulance arrives, though it is not clear if Manasra is treated. At one point he sits up, but the police tell him to lie back down and they can be seen checking him for explosives. No knife is visible.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders quickly expressed outrage, referring to the boy and his cousin as having been “executed” by Israel “in cold blood”.

Ahmed’s uncle said the boys had done nothing wrong, were not carrying knives, and had gone to the area to rent video games. The boy was killed senselessly, he said.

In fact, Ahmed Manasra is still alive and is being treated in an Israeli hospital. His cousin was shot and killed by police at the scene. The Israeli boy stabbed is in serious condition. The second victim was lightly wounded.


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