Footage Captures Moment that 12-year-old Palestinian is Fatally Shot in Shuafat Refugee Camp

Bellingcat has geolocated footage showing the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Rami Hamdan Al-Halhouli in Shuafat Refugee Camp in East Jerusalem on Tuesday.

The boy can be seen in this footage lighting a firework on the street and moving in the direction of the Separation Barrier, moments later a shot can be heard and the boy falls to the ground.

In a statement, the police said a single shot was fired at a suspect who had “endangered the forces while firing aerial fireworks in their direction.”

The Israeli police have initiated an investigation into the incident, Haaretz reported

The Israeli Police responded to the footage on Twitter, stating that disturbances occurred in Shuafat which included “the throwing of an explosive, Molotov cocktails, and direct shooting of aerial fireworks towards security forces.” 

“As a result of these incidents, operations were conducted tonight against offenders to thwart their intentions of harming the security forces.”

What the Footage Can Tell Us

In the footage Rami can be seen wearing black pants and a black and striped hooded jumper. He is seen lighting a firework and moving up the street toward the Israeli Separation Barrier, the firework then shoots out in the direction of the Separation Barrier. 

Still image of 12-year-old Rami Hamdan Al-Halhouli from footage showing moment he is shot.

Between 00:09 and 00:12 we can hear three ‘bangs.’ 

It is hard to say for certain, as the first two bangs appear very close together but they coincide with footage showing Rami falling to the ground.

The third bang coincides with the firework exploding in the air. 

We shared the audio with Dr Robert Maher, Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the State University of Montana.

He told us a crack-boom sequence begins at 9.7 seconds.

The time between the crack (ballistic shock wave) and the next sound (possibly a muzzle blast) is about 127 milliseconds.

If these sounds were the result of a supersonic bullet travelling at approximately 1000 metres per second, this would put the firearm about 66 metres away from the microphone. However calculating the precise distance would require additional information including the projectile speed. 

The audio analysis indicates that the bullet was fired before the firework was launched, this is supported by the fact the boy starts to fall before the firework launches.

Spectrogram of recorded audio including still showing moment Rami starts to fall. Credit: Spectrogram by Dr Robert Maher. Still from footage added by Bellingcat.

Several posts contained the footage of Rami being shot; this footage, posted by Anadolu Agency, includes filming that took place just after the shooting. After a jump cut it shows Rami lying motionless on the ground. 

The first reports we found about the shooting appeared on Telegram about 8:30pm on Tuesday.

Some time later that evening, after Rami was shot, Israeli security forces were filmed examining the site. 

Locating Where Rami Hamdan was Shot

We geolocated Rami was positioned here, 31.808213, 35.244005, the moment he was shot.

In the footage you can see him standing next to a large cream coloured building and then later lying next to a red car and the same cream coloured building.

Left: Rami moments before lighting the firework and being shot, with cream coloured building and red car on his left. Middle: Moment Rami begins to fall, his position is marked in red. Right: Position Rami‘s body seen next to the car after he was shot, the position he was when he fell is highlighted in red.

We matched this cream coloured building and other features in satellite imagery.

Left: Satellite image showing the area where Rami was shot (the roof of the cream coloured building is circled in blue, red line indicates the top and bottom of the building). Middle: Cream building can be seen in footage just after Rami is shot. Right: Video showing firework exploding, with the Separation Barrier highlighted in Green Credit: Left: Google Earth Pro, Middle and Right: Anadolu Agency. 

The Separation Barrier at the end of the street can be seen clearly in the footage, we also identified what appears to be a reconnaissance tower behind the barrier at the checkpoint.

Left: A still from footage showing Israeli security forces at scene after the shooting, with building highlighted in red and reconnaissance tower highlighted in green. Left: The buildings highlighted on Google Earth Pro.

We measured the distance between Rami and the Separation Barrier and the tower when he was shot. He was located approximately 40 m from the barrier and approximately 70m from the tower when he fell to the ground.

It can’t be ruled out that Rami might have been standing in the line of sight of the tower. However the direction of origin of the bullet is not known. Israel’s border police units were reportedly already deployed in the camp at the time of the incident.

Left: Satellite image showing position when Rami was shot and line towards the tower. Right: Still of Israeli security forces at the scene. We used Rami’s position to trace a line of reference to the tower.

Further Investigation Needed

Rami’s body has reportedly not yet been released to the family, but his family told the BBC the bullet hit him in his heart.

The Israeli police have initiated an investigation into the incident. However, Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has voiced his support for the police officer who shot Rami, stating that he:  “salutes the fighter who killed the terrorist who attempted to shoot fireworks at him and the forces. This is exactly how you must act against terrorists – with determination and precision.”

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