IDF tells court Hebron assailant killed by soldier posed no threat
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IDF tells court Hebron assailant killed by soldier posed no threat

Infantryman may escape with manslaughter charge, prosecutor hints at hearing, as hundreds rally outside on behalf of soldier

An IDF soldier who was filmed shooting a disarmed Palestinian assailant in the head attends a hearing in his case at a military court near Kiryat Malachi on March 29, 2016 (POOL/Flash90)
An IDF soldier who was filmed shooting a disarmed Palestinian assailant in the head attends a hearing in his case at a military court near Kiryat Malachi on March 29, 2016 (POOL/Flash90)

A soldier arrested in the shooting death of a wounded Palestinian assailant deliberately executed the man, the military prosecutor said Tuesday at a hearing, but hinted he may not be charged with murder.

Speaking in a case that has become charged with political ramifications as hundreds of people demonstrated on behalf of the soldier outside, the prosecutor said the accused man shot the Palestinian stabber in the head though the assailant no longer posed a threat.

An IDF soldier was moderately wounded in the attack, in Hebron on Thursday, during the course of which another Palestinian assailant was shot and killed.

The soldier, whose name is being withheld from publication, was filmed Thursday shooting a wounded and nearly motionless Palestinian assailant in the head shortly following the stabbing attack in Hebron.

Demonstrators hold banners and flags outside an IDF court hearing in Kiryat Malakhi on March 29, 2016, to show their support for a soldier who shot a wounded Palestinian assailant in the head as he lay on the ground. (AFP / JACK GUEZ)
Demonstrators hold banners and flags outside an IDF court hearing in Kiryat Malakhi on March 29, 2016, to show their support for a soldier who shot a wounded Palestinian assailant in the head as he lay on the ground. (AFP / JACK GUEZ)

The soldier was arraigned Friday on suspicion of murder, drawing anger from his family, right-wing politicians and others who claim the army was passing judgment before probing the incident.

The prosecutor hinted on Monday the soldier may face manslaughter charges, walking backing a statement Friday that he could face murder charges.

“We are trying to decide what he could be charged with, including manslaughter,” the prosecutor said at the hearing.

Residents of Beit Shemesh attend a March 28, 2016, rally in solidarity with a soldier facing murder charges for shooting a Palestinian assailant in Hebron the week before. (Yaacov Lederman/Flash90)
Residents of Beit Shemesh attend a March 28, 2016, rally in solidarity with a soldier facing murder charges for shooting a Palestinian assailant in Hebron the week before. (Yaacov Lederman/Flash90)

The prosecutor also said the soldier, who originally said the Palestinian assailant posed a threat, had changed his recounting of the incident during questioning.

During the hearing, about 1,000 demonstrators rallied outside the Qastina court, near the town of Kiryat Malachi, to show support for the soldier. Among the demonstrators was Yisrael Beytenu head MK Avigdor Liberman.

Senior IDF officials and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, as well as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have defended the decision to charge the soldier and insisted that his actions violated the army’s ethical code.

Ya’alon has also castigated fellow lawmakers for “inciting” against army brass while defending the soldier.

According to the army, the soldier said before shooting the surviving Palestinian stabber that he should be killed, and told his commanders afterward that the assailant had deserved to die.

Israeli soldiers remove the body of a Palestinian man who stabbed a soldier in the West Bank city of Hebron on March 24, 2016. The Palestinian was shot at the scene after stabbing and wounding an Israeli soldier. (Wissam Hashlamon/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers remove the body of a Palestinian man who stabbed a soldier in the West Bank city of Hebron on March 24, 2016. The Palestinian was shot at the scene after stabbing and wounding an Israeli soldier. (Wissam Hashlamon/Flash90)

In Israel, the incident quickly escalated into a national debate about the IDF’s rules of engagement and its use of force in regards to Palestinians.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called Monday for the soldier to be brought to justice.

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