Occupied Jerusalem: An Israeli rights group has released a video showing the moment an Israeli soldier appears to shoot dead a wounded Palestinian in Hebron minutes after he had stabbed another soldier.
The footage, released by B’Tselem, was recorded on Thursday morning during an incident in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood of the southern West Bank city. It shows the immediate aftermath of an attack in which an Israeli soldier was wounded by two Palestinian men.
The stabbing of the the soldier happened just before a parade by Israeli colonists in the city celebrating the festival of Purim. The video was filmed by Emad Abu Shamsiyah, a B’Tselem volunteer, and shows one of the Palestinians accused of the attack, Abed Al Fatah Al Sharif, 21, lying injured on the ground.
A second Palestinian Ramzi Alkasrawi, 20, was also shot dead by soldiers during the attack.
Israeli military sources said the soldier responsible for the shooting had been suspended before the emergence of the video on the orders of his unit commander, who reported the shooting. In the graphic footage, the wounded soldier can be seen being lifted into an ambulance while soldiers and armed Israeli civilians mill around. Clearly visible in the video is the injured Al Sharif, who has already been shot once, his head still moving. After almost two minutes, a soldier approaches Al Sharif, aims his weapon at his head and shoots him, apparently killing him. Later footage shows him lying motionless with blood coming from his head.
The video appears to confirm in this instance repeated claims by Palestinians and human rights groups in recent months that Israeli security forces have shot and killed suspected attackers who pose no threat.
A witness told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency: “I heard gunshots, went outside my house to check what it was, and saw several Israeli soldiers yelling and two youths on the ground. A soldier approached one of the youths that was moving while yelling and opened fire at him from zero range.”
Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for B’Tselem, said: “In this case it seems crystal clear a soldier executed a wounded Palestinian assailant while he was on the ground. You can see he is alive injured.
“It is also clear from the video that an Israeli soldier has been injured. But this kind of conduct is shocking, especially considering the blase response of the other soldiers and security forces who are also seen. It raises quite serious questions about why these appears so unsurprising to these other soldiers and that needs to be seriously investigated.”
Despite the evidence that the soldier shot a wounded man who had already been incapacitated, Sarit added that she had little optimism that the shooting would be properly investigated.
“Since the beginning of this wave escalation [that began on 1 October last year] been many reports of disproportionate use of force vis a vis suspected assailants, none seriously investigated and of those none has seen charges opened.”
Commenting on the incident, Israeli Defence Forces spokesman Peter Lerner said: “An initial investigation into the incident found this to be a very grave incident that contravenes the IDF’s values and what is expected of its soldiers and commanders. In light of the findings of the initial investigation done by the commanders at the scene, the investigation was passed on to the IDF’s criminal investigation division (CID). The soldier was suspended pending the investigation.”
In January, concern about possible extrajudicial killings by Israeli forces during the current wave of violence was raised by the Swedish foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom. The diplomatic row that ensued led to her being called “irresponsible and delusional” by Israel’s foreign ministry, and told she was not welcome in the country. The new footage is bound, however, to raise renewed concern.