Why do US and EU only condemn the killing of Israelis ?

An Israeli soldier approaches a press member as a group of Palestinians gathered for a protest against the construction of Jewish settlements in Beit Dajan village (Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency)

Tamara Nassar

The Electronic Intifada  /  March 24, 2022

A Palestinian citizen of Israel killed four Israelis in stabbing and car-ramming attacks in the city of Beersheba, in southern Israel, on Tuesday.

Muhammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qiyan, 34, first crashed into a cyclist, then drove to a gas station where he stabbed a woman, according to Israeli police, Tel Aviv daily Haaretz reported.

He then proceeded to a shopping center where he reportedly attacked more people until armed Israeli civilians shot him dead.

Surveillance footage purportedly showing Abu al-Qiyan stabbing someone was shared on social media:

Those killed were 49-year-old Doris Yachbas, 50-year-old Moshe Kravisky, 43-year-old Laura Yitzhak and 67-year-old Menachem Yechezkel, Haaretz reported. Another two people were injured and hospitalized in stable condition.

A video posted on social media shows an Israeli civilian pointing a gun at Abu al-Qiyan and getting closer as Abu al-Qiyan tries to move away from the armed civilian.

Abu al-Qiyan appears to alternate between lunging at the armed man with a knife and backing away. Another armed civilian approaches and Abu al-Qiyan is shot and falls to the ground.

Other footage shows Abu al-Qiyan lying incapacitated on the pavement, but he appears to be still alive:

The 45-second clip shows no attempt to provide him with first aid. Nearby people can be heard cursing at him while he lies incapacitated.

His picture was shared on social media following his killing:

Framed as ISIS supporter

Abu al-Qiyan was from the Bedouin township of Hura in the southern Naqab (Negev) region. He is a former prisoner in Israeli detention.

Israeli media said Abu al-Qiyan was a supporter of the Islamic State group also known as ISIS.

This was parroted by US Senator Ted Cruz, who described the incident as “pure evil from a terrorist ISIS supporter.”

It is not clear if Abu al-Qiyan is related to Yaqoub Abu al-Qiyan, a Bedouin citizen killed by Israeli police in 2017.

Yaqoub Abu al-Qiyan was framed as being an ISIS supporter at the time.

However, this was false. In 2020, then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Yaqoub Abu al-Qiyan’s family for the baseless claim he was involved with ISIS.

Israel is withholding Muhammad Abu al-Qiyan’s body as part of a policy approved by its highest court to use the corpses of alleged Palestinian assailants as bargaining chips in negotiations with Palestinians.

European and American outcry

As expected, the chorus of European and American condemnation of the attack was swift and forceful.

Abu al-Qiyan is not known to have made any statement justifying his attack on political grounds, nor did any group claim responsibility.

Therefore the assumption that it was a “terrorist” incident – as opposed to one driven by personal motives or related to mental health – appears to be based solely on Abu al-Qiyan’s ethnic identity and unreliable Israeli accusations that he was associated with ISIS.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the EU “condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attack,” calling it “the deadliest such attack in recent years in Israel.”

State Department spokesperson Ned Price condemned the “heinous crime” and said the United States was ready to support Israel in investigating it.

Other European officials, including UK lawmakers, also issued strongly-worded statements.

Tor Wennesland, the UN secretary-general’s Middle East envoy, “strongly condemn[ed]” the killing of the Israelis and said “there is no justification for violence or terrorism.”

In contrast, Wennesland last month failed to condemn Israeli occupation forces’ killing of 13-year-old Muhammad Rizq Shehade Salah. He merely expressed that he was “gravely concerned” in a tweet.

Criticism of Israeli violence against Palestinians, if issued at all, almost never rises to the level of “condemnation,” even as Israeli forces routinely shoot dead Palestinians, including children, who pose no threat to anyone, or who are engaging in protest against Israel’s military occupation.

In one day last week, Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Israel, including a child, during raids on Palestinian refugee camps and homes.

The 16-year-old was the fourth Palestinian child killed by Israeli fire since the beginning of the year.

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada