Hebron soldier blames media for manslaughter prosecution

A soldier who killed a disarmed Palestinian assailant says he’s being hounded by army prosecutors because “they’re scared of the newspapers.”

The soldier shot and killed a Palestinian man, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, in Hebron on March 24, minutes after al-Sharif stabbed and moderately wounded a fellow soldier.

He was arrested that day and now faces charges of manslaughter in an IDF military court.

On Monday, Channel 2 releases transcripts from the Military Police questioning of the soldier, in which he holds to his defense — that he believed al-Sharif was wearing an explosive vest at the time — and lashes out at his accusers.

Al-Sharif wore “a large, furry coat, on a sunny, very warm day. I made a difficult decision in a split second. I cocked the weapon, told people to get out of the way, and fired,” he tells the investigator in the transcript.

“I want to ask a question. If there had been, in fact, an explosive vest, and it detonated, what would have happened? How many dead? They would have asked why no one thought to verify that he was neutralized. That’s what I did.”

Asked to explain why he was being prosecuted, and why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, among others, called his actions immoral, he says: “Because they’re scared of the newspapers and of what the world will say, to wash clean the hands of the IDF by claiming the soldier didn’t behave properly.”

The investigator cites the soldier’s company commander, who claims he told him shortly after the shooting that “I shot because he deserved to die.”

“That’s fine,” the soldier tells the investigator. “I don’t remember it but if I said it, that’s logical that a terrorist who comes to murder must die.”

“First you said, ‘deserves to die,’ then you said, ‘must die,'” notes the investigator.

“That isn’t the same thing?”

“It isn’t the same thing.”

Asked if he was satisfied with his behavior, he says, “If I’d known that this is what they’d do to me, I wouldn’t have joined the army.”

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