Fact Check

Israeli Justice?

Does a sequence of photographs capture the summary execution of a Palestinian by Israeli police?

Published Apr 22, 2002

Claim:   Sequence of photographs captures the summary execution of a Palestinian by Israeli police.

Status:   Undetermined.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2002]

Israeli Justice?

First they arrest Mohammed Saleh, a Palestinian aged 23. So far nothing is wrong with the picture. Please continue . . .

Then they pin him on the floor suspecting he has weapons on him. Still nothing out of the ordinary.

They have him on the floor still. Now they try to question a second Palestinian on the scene. It looks like they have full control over the situation. No problem so far.

Now they have to strip him to make sure he isn’t hiding weapons on him. As we can see, he is stripped to his underwear. From what we've seen so far, Mohammed has been totally over powered, stripped and pined [sic] down on the floor. He has shown no resistance and there are no signs of any weapon on him. So what would a democratic country such as Israel, a county that claims to respect human rights do? Let Mohammed go? Arrest him??

The picture speaks for itself.

Origins:   The pictures shown above were part of an eleven-photo sequence published by the AFP news agency, photographs taken by an amateur photographer through his window in East Jerusalem which depict the apprehension and shooting of a Palestinian named Mohammed Saleh on 8 March


Israeli police maintained that Saleh was attempting to perpetrate a suicide bombing, had a large explosive device strapped to his waist, and after being apprehended "attempted several times to detonate the bomb by rubbing his chest against the ground in the hope of activating the detonation switch." The police statement reported that "[i]n order to prevent the murder of the policemen and the bomb disposal officer, the suicide bomber was shot and killed by police" and "[t]he bomb was [then] dismantled with the aid of a bomb disposal robot."

News agencies such as the BBC noted what they claimed were discrepancies in the Israeli Police statement and reported that AFP had "received the testimonies of more than 10 eyewitnesses, who said the man was shot half-an-hour after his arrest when he was completely subdued."

Other claimants (in this case a French pro-Palestinian web site) maintained that Saleh carried no bomb at all, and that Israeli police summarily executed him and then "fake[d] the public that he is a suicide bomber."

Without having all the photographs at hand, a guide to demonstrate their correct sequencing, and more non-partisan news reports or accounts of the incident, we can only state that these pictures are, as the BBC termed them, "graphic, but inconclusive."

Last updated:   3 December 2007

  Sources Sources:

    BBC News.   "Controversy Over 'Execution' Pictures."

    12 March 2002.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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