Pallywood Returns: Palestinian Doctors and Human Rights Group B'Tselem Smear Israel with a Likely Faked X-Ray (PJM Exclusive)

An Israeli human rights group is calling for an investigation into the deaths of two Palestinians who died as a results of wounds they sustained during a riot in Nablus. Israeli forces claim they fired rubber-coated bullets in an attempt to disperse a violent crowd. But B'Tselem claims that an X-ray of the skull of Osayed Qadus clearly shows a regular rifle bullet in his head. And a claim that live bullets were fired at Palestinian protesters is nothing more or less than an accusation of attempted murder.

Indeed, the image released to the media does seem to show what may be a bullet in what is purported to be the skull of Osayed Qadus. Unfortunately for B'Tselem and for the credibility of the Palestinian doctors at Nablus Specialty Hospital, the identity of who put the bullet in Qadus' head is very much in doubt.

Almost certainly, the bullet depicted in the X-ray did not come from an Israeli rifle.

To understand the problem with B'Tselem's claim, it helps to have an understanding of both the rubber-coated steel projectiles used as less-lethal weapons by Israel and the very deadly bullets used to kill by armed forces in both sides of the ongoing conflict.

It would be very difficult, if not impossible, for Israeli soldiers to accidentally fire live bullets instead of rubber-coated projectiles, because the rubber-coated projectiles are not fired down the barrel like regular bullets. Instead, the round or oblong projectiles are housed in an adaptor affixed to the end of the barrel, where the expanding gases of blanks fired by the gun propels them downrange.

While coated in rubber, these projectiles do have the power to kill at close range, and Israeli forces have standing orders not to fire them inside 40 meters. The IDF fire in this incident is reported to have occurred at 70 meters.

The common small arms caliber used by the Israel Defense Forces is the same 5.56mm NATO cartridge used by most Western nations, including the United States. The standard 62-grain SS109 cartridge used by Israeli forces has a somewhat checkered reputation when used in M4 carbines, due to the lower velocities the bullet can attain in the short 14.5" barrel. While the cartridge tends to tumble and fragment at the higher velocities attained in 20" M16 barrels, the short barrel and lower velocity of the M4 means that the cartridge doesn't tumble or fragment as readily, and instead often punctures straight through a human-sized target.

If you look at the X-ray, however, you do not see what you would expect to find in a 5.56mm bullet fired at relatively close range from either of these weapons. There is no catastrophic fragmentation, as you would expect to find from a SS109 bullet fired by an M-16 at this range. Nor is there the through-and-through wound one might expect from an M-4 punching through the front of the skull and out the rear.