The IDF soldier who was caught on film shooting dead a Palestinian attacker who lay immobile on the ground was brought to a detention hearing before the military court in Jaffa on Friday and is now being suspected of murder.
The soldier claimed that he had felt his life was in mortal danger, and chose to shoot in self defense. According to the soldier's lawyer, the soldier "acted in accordance with the rules of engagement as suggested by his superiors."
It was also revealed that a preliminary investigation into the incident had been conducted before the video was circulated by B'tselem, following a complaint by one of the brigade's commanders. Several soldiers from the Kfir Brigade, including a few commanders, had come forward to testify.
The suspect's lawyer is asking for limited press access during the hearing, although the court has yet to decide if that should be the case.
The court will examine the incidents surrounding the shooting and whether or not the military had authorized the shooting before it had occurred.
The hearing comes after the incident, which took place on Thursday on a Hebron street near the Jewish Tel Rumeida neighborhood, was caught on camera by an associate of the NGO B'tselem. The video shows a subdued Palestinian attacker lying on the ground before the sound of a gun being cocked can be heard and a shot was fired at the attacker, killing him.
IDF Spokesman Moti Almoz said on Thursday that an investigation is underway and the solider, a member of the Kfir Brigade, has been suspended but will be treated as innocent until the full details of the event have been disclosed.
The video quickly went viral after being posted online, fueling condemnations from the left and right.
“The IDF expects its soldiers to behave with composure and in accordance with the rules of engagement,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement, adding that this incident does not “represent the values of the IDF.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said, “We must not allow, even at a time that our blood boils, this loss of control. This incident will be dealt with with the utmost severity.” IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, said: "This is not the IDF. These are not the values of the IDF or the IDF culture."
While speaking to family members in a private conversation hours after his initial arrest by Military Police, the soldier said: "I did the right thing at the right time in order to prevent anything else bad from happening."
The soldier added that he feared that the terrorist, who had already succeeded in stabbing another solider, was going to try to attack other soldiers. "He wore a thick coat and therefore I feared that he would stand and detonate an explosive belt."
"After I saw the terrorist moved," the soldier continued, "I shot him. I just feared that the terrorist would blow himself up."
A lawyer representing the soldier in the matter told Army Radio later Thursday evening that his client was "not guilty" of any wrongdoing and urged the public "not to forget who was defending" them.
"We are too quick to say he was wrong and that he is guilty because of the video...but the soldier is not guilty," the lawyer commented. "Lets not allow his blood to be spilled just yet. Don't forget who is defending [the public], don't forget who is defending your children."
IDF soldiers killed both Abdel Fattah al-Sharif and Ramzi al-Kasrawi after they stabbed a soldier guarding the road that leads to the small Tel Rumeida neighborhood. The scene right after the attack was captured on a three-minute video that opens when Sharif, 21, is still alive.
Tovah Lazaroff, Gil Hoffman, and Yaakov Lapping contributed to this report.
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