IDF’s top lawyer opens up on soldier involved in March 24 Hebron shooting

"We are not going to decide his fate based on surveys."

April 5, 2016 00:34
1 minute read.

IDF Brig.-Gen. Sharon Afek. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

In his first speech since becoming the IDF’s top legal official in October, Military Advocate-General Brig.-Gen. Sharon Afek told attendees of the Israel Bar Association conference in Eilat on Monday he will not consider public surveys when deciding the fate of the Hebron soldier suspected of manslaughter in the death of a Palestinian attacker.

“We enjoy complete independence. We will not make decisions based on public surveys and the changing winds,” Afek said. “We will act professionally and based on substantive [legal] issues… straight in our ways… and with no bias.”

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Abdel Fattah al-Sharif was shot in Hebron on March 24 while trying to stab security forces. The terrorist, who had been neutralized, survived until he was shot dead by the soldier, whose name remains under a gag order.

The fatal shooting of al-Sharif was captured on video and went viral.

An IDF criminal investigation of the solider is expected to result in a manslaughter indictment within the next two weeks.

Afek slammed the “recent commentaries from a debate of passions… street talk and public surveys” as abusing the right of “freedom of speech, which is positive,” in order to “mislead the public.”

He said the effects of uninformed public debate and judgments prior to the IDF completing its investigation “can hurt the army and damage the ability of commanders to set the rules of engagement about what is allowed and what is not.

“Commanders must do the investigating and deciding of what soldiers do in operations in the field,” even “before the IDF legal division enters the picture.”

He added that founding prime minister David Ben-Gurion created the Military Advocate-General’s Office in 1948 in the midst of the nascent state’s War of Independence to show how committed the IDF is to “being loyal to its values.”

“Our commitment to the rule of law is a certificate [of achieving those values] for the IDF and for commanders,” Afek said.

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