A week after shooting a rock-throwing Palestinian teenager near Ramallah, Col. Yisrael Shomer on Sunday was questioned under caution by the IDF’s criminal investigation unit.
Shomer’s interrogation came after a video published by Israeli watchdog B’Tselem appeared to show him shooting 17-year-old Muhammad Ali al-Kasbeh while the teenager was fleeing the scene after hurling a stone at the officer’s vehicle. Kasbeh later succumbed to his injuries.
No charges have been lodged against Shomer, who serves as commanding officer of the Binyamin Brigade in the West Bank.
The incident occurred at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah on July 3 after the teen threw stones at a military vehicle.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, troops driving a vehicle near the West Bank village of al-Ram, north of Jerusalem, came under a hail of stones and boulders that shattered their windshield.
The soldiers exited the vehicle and called to the stone-throwers to stop, firing a warning shot into the air. When the attack continued, the troops opened fire, injuring one of the attackers.
According to a Channel 2 TV report, Shomer contended during the investigation that he feared he was in imminent danger when his vehicle was attacked and that he operated according to army protocol. He consulted his attorney before the meeting with army investigators.
B’Tselem spoke to eyewitnesses who claimed that Shomer fired on Kasbeh when he was 10 meters (30 feet) away, then walked up to him and pushed him with his leg. They said Shomer and his troops left the scene without attending to Kasbeh’s wounds.
The security camera footage released by B’Tselem appears to show Kasbeh throwing a stone at the IDF vehicle from close range, shattering the windshield. The soldiers exit the vehicle and appear to discharge their weapons at someone off-camera. Moments later, they return to the vehicle and drive off.
After the incident, Central Command chief Maj. Gen. Roni Numa arrived at the scene, and after initial questioning of those involved said the brigade commander had acted as expected in incidents of this type.
“I give my full backing to the brigade commander and support his handling of this situation where the troops were in clear and present danger,” he said.
The Military Police Investigations Unit then opened an investigation into the incident.