Supporters of an IDF soldier being investigated for shooting an apparently disarmed Palestinian assailant in the West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday posted a video online of the moments before the shooting, which they say shows as reasonable the soldier’s claim that he feared the attacker may have had an explosive device.
The soldier was arrested Thursday after he was filmed shooting the Palestinian shortly after the latter had stabbed a different soldier. When the suspect shot him, the Palestinian was already lying on the ground wounded, as a result of troops’ gunfire during his attack.
The soldier was brought to the Jaffa Military Court Friday for an extension of his remand. He is now being treated as a murder suspect.
The Palestinian was one of two stabbers who attacked soldiers near the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hebron.
The soldier’s shooting drew widespread condemnation, including from Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called it a violation of the army’s ethical code. The army’s Military Police have launched a criminal investigation into the incident.
An investigation was also launched Thursday by the Central Command into the apparent failure of two officers on the scene to prevent the shooting.
But in the latest video, seen below, rescue crews are shown moments before the shooting, with the conversation clearly focused on the possibility that the stabber continued to constitute a threat to those around him.
צפו: תיעוד חדש מהתקרית, תומך בגרסת החייל כי היה חשש להמצאות מטען על גוף המחבלקרדיט: הצלה יו"ש
Posted by רוטר.נט – סקופים וחדשות on Friday, 25 March 2016
“That terrorist is still alive, the dog! Don’t let him attack us!” one medic is heard saying after apparently seeing the Palestinian moving.
“It looks like he has a bomb on him,” shouts another voice. “Until a sapper comes, nobody touches him!”
The video appears to corroborate the suspect’s own testimony to investigators according to which the Palestinian was still “moving underneath his jacket, where he could have been hiding explosives or weapons,” as the soldier’s attorney Benjamin Malka explained Thursday.
This warning, however, was not unique to this incident. It is standard IDF operating procedure to assume that an assailant has an explosive device to carry out a secondary attack on first responders.
Other soldiers can also be seen in the two videos from the scene standing next to the two Palestinian assailants, making it unclear how serious the threat of an explosive device was considered by the people on the scene.
The graphic video of the Thursday morning incident went viral on Israeli social media, sparking controversy.
But lawyer Malka told Ynet shortly after the incident that his client should not be judged before an army investigation is completed.
In the video, the soldier is partially blocked from view by other members of his unit when the shot is fired. However, the impact of the bullet can be seen. The Palestinian man can then be seen bleeding from the head.
(Video contains graphic images)
In an earlier interview with Army Radio, Malka called his client an “outstanding soldier, salt of the earth,” adding that “he has yet to be allowed to defend his innocence.”
The video prompted the IDF to launch an investigation into what it said was “a very grave” incident.
IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz said the soldier had been arrested and pledged that there would be a thorough investigation into the shooting. “This is not the IDF, these are not the values of the IDF and these are not the values of the Jewish people,” Almoz said.
Ya’alon said the case would be handled “with all due severity,” saying the soldier’s apparent actions were “in utter breach of IDF values and our code of ethics in combat.”
As news of the shooting spread, Israeli lawmakers from the center-left reacted harshly, warning of the dangers of moral decline and of loose rules of engagement in the military.
The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, accused Israel of committing “a war crime,” with PA Health Minister Jawad Awwad saying the Palestinian assailant had been “executed” by soldiers, and claimed the footage was “irrefutable evidence that Israeli soldiers commit field executions.”
Israel has come under criticism from Europe and the United States for allegedly using excessive force in stopping Palestinian terrorists. The PA and some countries, notably Sweden, have accused Israel of extra-judicial executions — something Israel has vigorously denied.
The incident in Hebron marked the first attack since Saturday, breaking a rare calm spell amid a wave of violence in the West Bank and Israel that has raged for nearly half a year.
In the nearly six months of Palestinian terrorism and violence since October, 29 Israelis and four foreign nationals have been killed. About 190 Palestinians have also been killed, some two-thirds of them while attacking Israelis, and the rest during clashes with troops, according to the Israeli army.