Thomas Wictor

The IDF did not kill Mustafa Tamimi

The IDF did not kill Mustafa Tamimi

Last year I saw a photo that showed a Palestinian protester named Mustafa Tamimi allegedly being shot by Israeli soldiers at point-blank range with a 40mm tear-gas canister. The incident happened at Nabi Saleh, the West Bank, on December 10, 2011. Tamimi, 28, died the next day of his injuries.


Tamimi became a martyr for Palestinians and those who oppose Israel. He was a well-known activist.


There’s a bitter irony to the fact that he was an expert with the sling.

Tamimi was hit in the right eye. A series of photos captured his mortal wounding, but it’s hard to find high-resolution images. Most are like these.


The Israeli photographer who took the images believes that the IDF killed Tamimi. In another irony, his interview provides the irrefutable evidence that the IDF was not responsible.

Here’s the interview. Watch it first, and then I’ll explain what really happened.

Haim Schwarczenberg saw everything through the eyes of someone predisposed to believe that the IDF callously murders people as a matter of policy and then covers it up. He knows nothing about munitions, so his eyewitness testimony is worthless.

It was impossible for the IDF to do a complete investigation. The second rock thrower in the photos refused to cooperate, and rioters prevented the military police from reconstructing the scene of the crime. Why? Because they had a secret, and they had an agenda.

People with no knowledge of munitions simply guess at what’s happening. Here are two competing versions of events by “human rights” organizations.



Both are wrong. The Israeli soldier inside the jeep has not yet fired his weapon. The puff of smoke at the top of the vehicle is from a tear-gas canister fired by someone else.


We’ll get to who fired it in a minute.

According to Haim Schwarczenberg, the Israelis were surrounded.


Large rocks were being flung; you can see them in the road. Palestinians use slings and catapults that can easily kill. However, it requires great skill to hit the right target.


The jeep is an MDT David, based on the Land Rover Defender. This is what the inside of the back doors look like.

Protest against the wall, Bilin, West Bank, 7.2.2024

When you open the back, you have to hold on to one of the two handles to keep the doors from swinging open.

Schwarczenberg’s photos show that the grenade launcher has an iron sight on the end of the barrel, marked with the red arrow. The green arrow identifies a rock thrown by Tamimi’s companion. Look how big it is.


Only one Israeli grenade launcher used to fire 40mm tear-gas canisters has an identical sight: The Penn Arms Launcher L640-1.


Note the amount of smoke coming out of the barrel. Keep that in mind.

Loaded, the weapon weighs 13.2 lb (6 kg). Since the soldier inside the jeep had to hold the door handle with one hand, he could not have carefully aimed. In fact the IDF reported that the shooter didn’t even see Mustafa Tamimi. He simply fired because the jeep was under heavy bombardment with stones. They can do a lot of damage even to armored vehicles.

Remember that the soldier kept the door mostly shut. To do so, he stood at an angle, his left shoulder against the door. He held the door handle with his left hand and his launcher with his right. The weapon was pointed to the shooter’s right, not straight back, as Schwarczenberg’s photo proves.


In the enhanced version above, the green arrow marks daylight seen through the windshield, showing that the soldier is behind the door, not standing in the middle of the vehicle. You can make out his arm, identified by the purple arrow. It’s clear that the trajectory was over Tamimi’s head and far to his left. A second photo shows that the soldier was not aiming at Tamimi.


What Schwarczenberg says is simply not true.


The angle of the grenade-launcher barrel is wrong; in addition, the soldier is holding the door handle with one hand and raising a heavy weapon with the other as large rocks slam against him. It was not possible for him to take deliberate aim. Plus, Schwarczenberg is using a telephoto lens that compresses distances dramatically. Tamimi is much further from the jeep than he appears.

And now, the moment of impact.


Tamimi has been hit in the head with a projectile. His cap has been knocked off, and he’s exhibiting myclonus, the involuntary jerking of his muscles, a classic sign of traumatic brain injury. His arms have wrapped around his chest, and his legs are contracting into a kneeling posture.

But you can see for yourself, the launcher has not yet been fired. There’s no smoke anywhere near the barrel.

In a closeup, we see a tear-gas canister in midair.


Schwarczenberg says that this canister has just bounced off Tamimi’s face. That’s incorrect. Not only is there no smoke coming from the launcher barrel, those are aluminum canisters. They’re easily dented, as seen in this image.


The canister in Schwarczenberg’s photo shows no sign of having hit anything. If it had struck a human skull hard enough to cause fatal traumatic brain injury, the canister would be flattened like a beer can. That projectile was not fired by the soldier in the jeep.

So who fired it?

Israeli soldiers on another hill. They were shooting barrages of tear-gas canisters to drive the protestors away from the jeeps.


You can see in Schwarczenberg’s photo that the canister leaves a smoke trail, indicating that it came from the left.


This photo was taken a second after the soldier in the jeep fired his grenade launcher.


Now you can see the smoke from the discharge. The green arrow marks another tear-gas canister fired by the same soldiers on the hill who were trying to dissuade Tamimi and his friend from throwing rocks at the jeep. On the right—next to the jeep wheel—is the canister that Schwarczenberg says hit Tamimi in the face. You can see from the smoke trail that it actually passed between Tamimi and the vehicle.

The above photo is irrefutable evidence that Tamimi was already down when the soldier in the jeep fired his grenade launcher. There’s no smoke from the barrel of the launcher until after Tamimi falls. Schwarczenberg captured the instant Tamimi was hit, but the photographer missed the soldier in the jeep firing his grenade launcher. That’s because these two moments in time were seconds apart.

Tamimi topples forward as his friend abandons him.


A closeup shows that myclonus has made his hands clench unnaturally. His knees are still drawn up.

Mustafa Tamimi 9/12/11

Note the many spent aluminum tear-gas cartridge cases. See how thin the metal is? If the flying tear-gas canister in Schwarczenberg’s photo had hit Tamimi, it would’ve been heavily dented. Yet it’s completely undamaged. Therefore something else caused the fatal injury.

Who killed Mustafa Tamimi?

The Palestinians. With a rock. Haim Schwarczenberg provides the irrefutable evidence. Here it is.


Schwarczenberg said the protesters were all over the mountains. Someone used a sling or a catapult to throw a rock that hit Mustafa Tamimi so hard that it shattered. The green arrows mark the fragments.


We know those are rock fragments in the air because they don’t appear in the photo taken a second later. The red arrow shows a landmark for comparison purposes.

Mustafa Tamimi 9/12/11

Tamimi’s facial wounds were extensively filmed. They were clearly caused by a jagged, uneven object, not a canister.



He lost his eye, his cheekbone was smashed, and he had a deep gash above his right eye socket. His “friends” tried to staunch the bleeding with a keffiyeh, carelessly yanked him up, and stuffed him into a van.


He was killed by Palestinians and their sympathizers.

Several “human rights” groups claim to have identified the Israeli soldier who fired the tear-gas canister. I won’t repeat his name but I’ll tell him this:

You killed nobody. The Palestinians killed one of their own, and then they blamed it on you. That’s why Tamimi’s rock-throwing friend refused to cooperate in the investigation, and that’s why rioters repeatedly and violently drove away investigators.

In the third grotesque irony of this hideous case, Mustafa Tamimi will receive no justice. His killer remains free, because Tamimi is more useful as a symbol than as a human being.

I find that almost too repulsive to contemplate. The only people who cared enough to find out what happened were the Israelis. Tamimi’s death illustrates everything that’s evil and corrupt about the anti-Israel movement.


I’m sorry, Mustafa. In the end you were friendless. After they read this, many of the people you hated will pray for you.

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