Despite appeal, Hebron shooter to be held on IDF base
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Despite appeal, Hebron shooter to be held on IDF base

Prosecution had objected to decision, citing soldier’s lack of cooperation, evasion over ‘anomalies’ in his account

The IDF soldier who shot a disarmed Palestinian attacker in the head in Hebron appears in the Qastina military court on March 31, 2016. (screen capture: Channel 2)
The IDF soldier who shot a disarmed Palestinian attacker in the head in Hebron appears in the Qastina military court on March 31, 2016. (screen capture: Channel 2)

The IDF soldier who last week shot a disarmed Palestinian assailant in the head in Hebron, will be held at an undisclosed army base, a military court in Tel Aviv decided Friday, despite an appeal by the judge advocate general against the decision.

The decision was made following an agreement between prosecutors and defenders, the Walla news website said. The hearing took place at the Kirya military base in the center of Tel Aviv.

The court released the soldier from custody to supervised detention at the base on Thursday, rejecting the prosecution’s request to keep him behind bars another week. He will not, however, be allowed to rejoin his battalion, nor will he be permitted to have a weapon.

In its appeal against the decision to let the soldier leave prison, the prosecution claimed that the soldier was not cooperating with investigators, even though his lawyers initially said he had promised to reenact the shooting and confront the soldiers who testified against him, the Ynet news website said.

“He refused to hold a reenactment or confrontations (except with one soldier with whom he actually had no dispute), and even indicated that he did not remember things that were said by witnesses at the scene,” said the appeal presented by Judge Advocate General Sharon Zagagi Pinchas.

The appeal also stated that “the soldier claimed several times during investigation that the attacker tried to reach for a knife that was ‘within reaching distance,’ while the video [of the incident] paints a different picture, that the knife was a significant distance from the attacker, who was himself in serious condition. He gave evasive answers during investigation whenever he was confronted with anomalies in his version of events. The soldier’s [shifting] version raises serious doubts about the credibility of the defense arguments, to say the least.”

The Kfir Brigade soldier was caught on film shooting dead a Palestinian assailant who attempted to stab IDF troops in Hebron — some 10 minutes after the assailant had already been shot, wounded and disarmed.

He was arraigned a day later on suspicion of murder, though military prosecutors on Thursday said they would instead seek manslaughter charges, citing unspecified “developments.”

During Thursday’s hearing at the Qastina military court, IDF prosecutor Lt. Col. Adoram Reigler said “significant developments” in recent days necessitated the downgraded charges.

Though he did not detail what the new developments were, Reigler did say the soldier is suspected of shooting the assailant “deliberately and unnecessarily.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday urged the family of the soldier to trust in the Military Police investigation currently underway.

“I heard your words and as the father of a soldier, I understand your distress,” Netanyahu told the father of the still-unnamed soldier in a phone call.

“I trust the IDF, the chief of staff and the investigation 100% and I think that you too should trust the commanders and the investigation,” he said. “I am convinced that the investigation will be professional and fair toward your son.”

An IDF soldier loading his weapon before he appears to shoot a disarmed, prone Palestinian assailant in the head following a stabbing attack in Hebron on March 24, 2016. (Screen capture: B'Tselem)
An IDF soldier loading his weapon before he appears to shoot a disarmed, prone Palestinian assailant in the head following a stabbing attack in Hebron on March 24, 2016. (Screen capture: B’Tselem)

 

In the days following the incident, senior officials — including Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon — publicly distanced themselves from the soldier, insisting his actions violated the IDF’s code of ethics, sparking a political battle over his fate within the governing coalition.

At a press conference held at their Ramle home earlier this week, the soldier’s family angrily decried his “lynching” in the media and the public arena and said Israeli leaders were too quick to judge him before he had an opportunity to defend himself.

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