Soldier who shot disarmed Palestinian attacker facing murder charge
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Soldier who shot disarmed Palestinian attacker facing murder charge

Suspect’s lawyer says there was ‘real danger of an explosion’ during incident, in moments after stabbing attack

Israeli soldiers remove the body of a Palestinian man shot after he stabbed and wounded a soldier in the West Bank city of Hebron on March 24, 2016. (Wissam Hashlamon/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers remove the body of a Palestinian man shot after he stabbed and wounded a soldier in the West Bank city of Hebron on March 24, 2016. (Wissam Hashlamon/Flash90)

An IDF soldier caught on camera as he shot dead an apparently disarmed Palestinian assailant in the West Bank appeared in Jaffa Military Court on Friday, where it emerged that he is now the suspect in a Military Police murder investigation.

The soldier was arrested Thursday. He was filmed in Hebron shooting the Palestinian shortly after the latter had stabbed another soldier. When the suspect shot him, the Palestinian was already lying on the ground wounded, as a result of troop gunfire during the stabbing. The Palestinian was one of two stabbers who attacked troops near the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hebron, wounding one of them.

The soldier, from the Kfir Brigade, confirmed to the court Friday that he had carried out the shooting, and repeated his earlier statement that he believed the Palestinian had been wearing an explosive vest and therefore posed an ongoing danger, Army Radio said. He arrived in court after a night of questioning.

The soldier’s lawyer, Eyal Beserglick, also said that his client had acted out of the belief that the Palestinian had an explosive device.

“The investigation revealed that the shooting apparently took place when there were already at least several bullets in the attacker’s body,” Beserglick said. “When there was a real danger of an explosion at the scene, after a stabbing incident, what is expected of an outstanding soldier who sees his friends shy away from the same attacker? Who has a genuine fear for his friends’ lives and only then his own?”

Requesting that the soldier be remanded for a further six days, the military prosecutor told the court that this was an extremely serious offense, and therefore “multiple methods of investigation were necessary given the sensitivity of the incident… and as such it is necessary to extend the soldier’s remand.”

An IDF soldier stands near blood stains from the body of a Palestinian assailant allegedly shot in head by a soldier as he lay wounded on the ground after stabbing and injuring an Israeli soldier in Hebron on March 24, 2016. (AFP/Hazem Bader)
An IDF soldier stands near blood stains from the body of a Palestinian assailant allegedly shot in head by a soldier as he lay wounded on the ground after stabbing and injuring an Israeli soldier in Hebron on March 24, 2016. (AFP/Hazem Bader)

Supporters of the soldier on Friday 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.

In the video, 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 piektdiena, 2016. gada 25. marts

“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 testimony that the Palestinian was still “moving underneath his jacket, where he could have been hiding explosives or weapons.” The testimony was discussed Thursday by another member of his legal team, attorney Benjamin Malka.

The warning of a possible bomb is 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.

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.

An investigation was also launched Thursday by the Central Command into the apparent failure of two officers on the scene to prevent the shooting.

The initial graphic video of the Thursday morning incident went viral on Israeli social media, sparking controversy.

Malka told Ynet shortly after the incident that his client should not be judged before an army investigation is completed.

In the initial video, which can be seen below, 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)

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.

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.

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