Police summon Palestinian who filmed Hebron shooting for questioning
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Police summon Palestinian who filmed Hebron shooting for questioning

Jewish extremists filed police complaint alleging that B’Tselem stringer Emad abu-Shamsiyah conspired with stabbers who attacked soldiers

Israeli soldiers remove the body of a Palestinian man shot after he stabbed and wounded a soldier in the West Bank city of Hebron on March 24, 2016. (Wissam Hashlamon/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers remove the body of a Palestinian man shot after he stabbed and wounded a soldier in the West Bank city of Hebron on March 24, 2016. (Wissam Hashlamon/Flash90)

The left-wing rights group B’Tselem says its stringer in Hebron who filmed an IDF soldier shooting a wounded Palestinian stabber last week has been called in for questioning by police.

Emad abu-Shamsiyah has faced a backlash for filming the incident, which has sparked a furor in Israel and led to murder charges against the soldier.

Far-right Israeli activists filed a police complaint against abu-Shamsiyah on Saturday night alleging that he had conspired with the two Palestinian stabbers who attacked soldiers in the West Bank city’s Tel Rumeida neighborhood.

An IDF soldier was moderately wounded in the March 24 stabbing attack. One Palestinian stabber was shot and killed during the attack. The other, whose death sparked the inquiry, was shot minutes later, after he was disarmed and wounded and lying on the ground.

“Emad abu-Shamsiyah, the chronicler of the Hebron shooting, was summoned to an investigation in the Hebron police [station] today at 11 a.m.,” B’Tselem said Thursday morning. “The police officer who called him last night did not tell him what investigators want to talk about.”

Abu-Shamsiyah’s attorney, Gabi Lasky, also failed to obtain information from the Hebron Police about the investigation, the group said.

The videographer arrived at the Givat Avot police station at 11 a.m., but had not yet been seen by investigators by the afternoon, B’Tselem said in an afternoon statement.

Since abu-Shamsiyah was called to a civilian police investigation, the inquiry is likely not connected to the investigation of the soldier, which is being carried out by IDF Military Police. It may instead be linked to the complaint the far-right activists filed against abu-Shamsiyah.

Jewish extremist activists Itamar Ben Gvir and Bentzi Gopstein, leader of the anti-Arab Lehava organization, filed the police complaint, noting that the B’Tselem activist was on site near the attack to film the incident just minutes after the two Palestinians carried out the stabbing attack there.

“It is worth noting that this was not the first time in which activists of the radical left-wing group B’Tselem are in the right place as far as they are concerned, and at the right time as far as they are concerned,” Ben Gvir said. “It would be naive to think this is a coincidence. It would be appropriate to examine whether there is some coordination between different people carrying out the attacks and found in the same place at precisely the same time.”

B’Tselem said Saturday night that settlers had attacked abu-Shamsiyah’s Hebron home with rocks and chanted “Death to Emad.” IDF soldiers at the scene did not intervene, the group charged.

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

During the stabbing attack last Thursday, one assailant was shot and killed by soldiers as he was attempting to stab them, and the other was shot and wounded. In the clip filmed by abu-Shamsiyah, a soldier can be seen approaching the wounded terrorist, who is supine on the ground, and shooting him in the head at close range.

(Video contains graphic images)

The clip immediately caused an uproar across Israel and beyond, and the soldier was arrested. The country’s leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, issued statements condemning his behavior as a violation of the IDF’s ethical code.

Top Israeli military officials on Saturday night rejected assertions that the soldier was right to shoot the apparently incapacitated Palestinian attacker because he feared the man could be wearing an explosives vest, saying an officer had checked the assailant minutes earlier and confirmed that he was not wearing such a vest.

While Israeli far-right activists have gone after the videographer, Palestinian and far-left Israeli activists have hounded the soldier and his family. Over the weekend, activists found the soldier’s Facebook page and published his personal details online. According to Israel Radio, the private phone number of the soldier’s father has since been posted on websites affiliated with Hamas.

On Saturday evening, the soldier’s sister, speaking on behalf of the family, said the State of Israel “stabbed him in the back and abandoned him.” She said abu-Shamsiyah’s clip of the incident “presents a one-sided version of events, and from that moment on, we hear the heads of the country judging him, delivering a verdict and all that’s left is to execute him, without even letting him defend himself.”

Israel Police were examining a complaint by the soldier’s family saying that they received death threats on the phone. Reports quoted the family as saying a man speaking in an Arabic accent called the family’s home on Saturday and threatened: “You’re next.”

On Saturday evening, dozens of people protested outside the Tzrifin army base where the soldier is under arrest, and called for his release. Among the protesters were combat soldiers and officers in mandatory and reserve service, as well as the mothers of combat soldiers in mandatory service, Israel Radio reported.

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