Video shows Israeli soldier greeting far-right activist after killing wounded Palestinian stabber
The new video – released by B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories – shows the soldier behind his commander as the two walk away from the body of Abed al-Fattah al-Sharif, who was shot on Thursday.
The soldier then shakes hands and pats on the back far-right activist Baruch Marzel, the former leader of the outlawed Kach party, which has been labeled a terrorist group by the US, EU and Israel.
The footage isn't the first recorded incident of a friendly encounter between the two; photos taken by foreign press agencies have shown the soldier smiling alongside Marzel.
Responding to reports of a camaraderie between the soldier – whose name remains under a court-issued gag order – and Marzel, the soldier's family was quoted by Haaretz as saying: “We are not commenting on rumors of any kind that are meant to continue to tarnish the image of an outstanding IDF fighter.”
They went on to call the reports “meaningless gossip which has no operational link to the incident,” pointing the finger directly at Haaretz.
The soldier has come under fire for shooting al-Sharif – who had reportedly been injured in retaliation for stabbing an IDF soldier – in Hebron on Thursday. The Palestinian was lying on the ground immobilized when the soldier shot him in the head.
“An Israeli ambulance arrived, but the medics did not provide first aid to the Palestinian, who was severely wounded. They carried the injured serviceman into the ambulance and then I heard the sound of another soldiers getting ready to fire. He walked up to the injured man and shot him in the head,” human rights activist Emad Abu Shamsia, who filmed the video, told RT.
Army Radio reported on Sunday that the military investigation found that the soldier told a friend that the “terrorist needs to die” for stabbing a soldier. Despite efforts to calm him down, the soldier shot al-Sharif.
The soldier's attorney, Ilan Katz, has denied that claim, insisting that the shooting was carried out in accordance with the army's open-fire procedures.
Meanwhile, the soldier reportedly said in a private conversation with family members following his arrest that he shot the Palestinian because he felt he was in “mortal danger,” and feared the man might try to blow himself up.
“He wore a thick coat and therefore I feared he would stand and detonate an explosive belt...after I saw the terrorist moved, I shot him...” The Jerusalem Post cited the soldier as saying.
He went on to say he believes he “did the right thing at the right time in order to prevent anything else bad from happening.”
The soldier is currently under investigation for murder, according to Haaretz, which quoted Court Justice Lt. Col. Ronen Schur as saying that there is a “reasonable suspicion that the suspect fired unlawfully under the circumstances.”
Free Palestine Movement co-founder Paul Larudee told RT that lethal force was not needed.
“Most of the wounds from these knives, in the few cases that occur, are minor wounds and do not require lethal force to stop them. The reason is to provoke the Palestinians. The more the Palestinians react, the more Israelis feel they have a justification for taking extremely repressive action,” he said.
However, a poll published by Israel's Channel 2 News on Saturday indicated that the majority of the public (57 percent) believe there was no need to detain and investigate the soldier, compared to 32 percent who support it. Forty-two percent of the respondents called the soldier's behavior “responsible,” while 24 percent believed it was a natural reaction to a stressful situation. Only 19 percent said it was a deviation from orders, while just 5 percent defined the shooting as murder.
A senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat filed a request to the United Nations on Monday asking it to formally address what he called extrajudicial “executions” of Palestinians by the Israeli Defense Forces, following the shooting incident in Hebron. He submitted the request during a meeting with the UN special coordinator for the peace process in the region, Nickolay Mladenov.
After the meeting, Erekat said that 207 Palestinians had been “executed” by Israel since last September, and the issue “requires an urgent international investigation,” as stated by the Palestinian news outlet Safa.