The man was perhaps in his early twenties, laboring with yellow-vested relief workers in the rubble of Shujaiyeh to cart out survivors on gurneys and find his family and friends. He was shot, and he fell. The shots kept coming. In a conflict marked by horrific images, this may be the worst yet.
The cellphone video of his apparent death on Sunday, first reported by VICE, was uploaded by the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-Palestine activist group, which put out a blog post on the incident:
The Israeli military just shot a Gazan man trying to reach his family, during an announced ceasefire. He was with a group of municipality workers and international human rights defenders who were attempting to retrieve injured people in the Shajiya neighbourhood.
"We all just watched a man murdered in front of us. He was trying to reach his family in Shajiya, he had not heard from them and was worried about them. They shot him, and then continued to fire as he was on the ground. We had no choice but to retreat. We couldn't reach him due to the artillery fire and then he stopped moving." Stated Joe Catron, U.S. International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist in Gaza. "Shajiya is a smoking wasteland. We just passed two bombed out ambulances."
In a series of photos taken by Catron, the unnamed man could be seen leading the group's workers through the streets of Shujaiyeh, which has seen the heaviest violence yet in Israel's Gaza offensive.
The video, shot by an older man in accented English, shows the group passing bombed-out Red Crescent ambulances and removing survivors to safety before bogging down in an obstacle-ridden intersection. A shot rings out and the workers scatter, arguing with panic in their voices over whether to seek cover or move out of the area.
Then the man in the green shirt calls down the road, seeking a response from friends or family. Instead, he is shot.
The other workers split into two groups under cover, the man in green splayed out between them in the middle of the rubble, crying in pain and fear. One worker across the street discusses the possibility of dragging him to safety in American-style English laden with nervous profanity. As the man in the green shirt lies there, he is shot again. And then a third shot strikes close to him.
The ISM, which has been criticized by Israelis and the Anti-Defamation League as pro-terrorist, is notorious for putting its volunteers in harm's way, most famously in the case of 23-year-old American Rachel Corrie, who was killed in 2003 during a protest when she was run over by an IDF bulldozer. ISM tactics have pushed the edge of the envelope in the past, virtually daring both sides in Gaza to resort to violence. And both sides have regularly obliged.
It's possible that ISM took an unreasonable risk going into Shujaiyeh. It's even remotely possible the deadly fire came from pro-Hamas elements seeking, as Benjamin Netanyahu put it Sunday, "telegenically killed" victims to turn public sympathy to their cause. It's more likely the fire came from Israel Defense Force snipers, targeting a man of military age, just because. The video, like so many other brutal images from this conflict, becomes a cipher for the viewer's cultural and political commitments: We see the same thing, but we process it in the way that most easily confirms our suspicions about the violence and its causes.
But one thing is undeniable. A young unarmed man in a green shirt, who moments before was calling for loved ones and hauling people out of the rubble, was knocked down and contorted and ultimately killed by gunfire. You can blame him or you can mourn him. You cannot pretend he didn't suffer into death.