A Palestinian man who says he was shot by an IDF sniper along the Gaza border said Wednesday he was posing no threat to soldiers at the time.
Tamer Abu Daqqa, 28, said a video filmed during a violent demonstration on December 22 in southern Gaza captured the moment he was shot. He said he recognized himself in the video due to the red jacket he was wearing at the time.
Abu Daqqa said he had thrown stones at Israeli soldiers over the border during the day, but denied he was armed or posed any threat at the time of the gunshot.
“When they shot me I was not throwing stones. I was yelling at friends near the fence to leave and return to our homes,” he told AFP at his home in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.
Footage from that day shows him in a hospital after being shot in the leg, which is still in a cast four months after the incident.
The clip filmed from the Israeli side of the border fence, which included troops rejoicing after the shooting, was shared widely online and by news media earlier this week.
It led to further scrutiny of Israel’s open-fire rules along the Gaza border, which are being debated in the wake of two massive violent demonstrations there.
The footage came to light on Monday, leading Israel’s national television broadcasts and prompting a wave of condemnations across the political spectrum, as well as some justification and support for the soldiers featured in it.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman praised the sniper, but criticized the soldier who filmed the incident.
“The sniper deserves an honor and the cameraman a demerit,” he said at an event in northern Israel.
The IDF said that the soldier opened fire after rioting by Palestinians and after the man who was hit had been warned by soldiers.
In the footage of the incident, voices can be heard discussing opening fire on Palestinians walking on the other side of the border fence.
A shooter then opens fire on one of the Palestinians, knocking the person to the ground.
“Wow. What a video! Yes! That son of a bitch,” one of the voices behind the camera exclaims in Hebrew.
The army on Tuesday confirmed the authenticity of the video, but alleged the shooting followed riots and warnings from troops.
It said a single bullet was fired toward the Palestinian “suspected of organizing and leading this incident while he was a few meters from the fence,” wounding him in the leg.
The IDF added that the cameraman, who was not part of the unit serving on the border, would face a disciplinary hearing. The initial result of the investigation into the video has been handed over to the Military Advocate General Corps, which will consider criminal charges.
The focus on the video came after the IDF General Staff announced Monday that it was launching an investigation into the military’s response to a series of violent protests along the Gaza border in recent days, which have so far resulted in the deaths of some 30 Palestinians.
Border incidents in the past two weeks have included two massive demonstrations in which tens of thousands of Palestinians took part.
The protests were part of a planned six-week “March of Return” that is due to end in mid-May with both “Nakba Day,” marking the displacement of Arabs after Israel’s creation, and the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — a plan that has infuriated Palestinian leaders.
Palestinian activists have insisted the protests were civilian-led and nonviolent, while Israel has said they were often used as cover for attempts at violence against Israeli troops and breaches of the border. The IDF says the marches are a new tactic by Hamas, which rules Gaza, to conduct terror operations in the confusion of the demonstrations.
The army said that it had spotted multiple attempts by terrorists to plant explosive devices along the Gaza border, a shooting attack on IDF troops by two well-armed Palestinian men dispatched by Hamas, as well as an attempted infiltration by a gunman wearing a suicide bomb vest. Hamas, a terror group that seeks to destroy Israel, has acknowledged several of its operatives were among the Palestinian dead. Hamas leaders have said the ultimate goal of the protests is to erase the border and liberate Palestine.