Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday urged the family of an Israel Defense Forces soldier who shot a disarmed Palestinian assailant in the head last week 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.”
Last week, the Kfir Brigade soldier was caught on film shooting dead a Palestinian assailant who attempted to stab IDF soldiers 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.”
The court Thursday released the solider from custody to supervised detention at an undisclosed army base, rejecting the prosecution’s request to keep him behind bars another week.
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 even had an opportunity to defend himself.
“He is being vilified and given grave and terrible titles, his fate is being sealed and he can’t speak up,” she said. “I am asking, begging: Stop for a moment…why are you killing him without a trial? Why haven’t you given him one moment to explain?” his sister told reporters.
During a Thursday hearing at the Qastina Military Court, IDF attorney 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 solider is suspected of shooting the assailant “deliberately and unnecessarily.”