The family of a combat soldier accused of murdering a "neutralized" Palestinian terror suspect held an unprecedented televised press conference outside their Ramla home Saturday evening.
The sister of the soldier read aloud a short statement saying that the military and political system had failed her brother.
"You send a child to protect the people of Israel, and then condemn him when something terrible happens," she said.
She continued by stating: "Think what will happen tomorrow when a soldier is confronted by a [terrorist] wanting to cause harm. Today it is my brother, tomorrow it might be a new recruit" to the IDF.
While giving the statement, she and her family
family refused to have their images captured and had their backs to television cameras.
Shortly after the press conference had concluded, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote a statement in defense of the IDF on his Facebook page.
“The IDF is a moral army that does not execute people,” Netanyahu wrote.
“IDF soldiers have absorbed with their bodies the murderous terror attacks against Israeli citizens and deserve support,” Netanyahu said.
With regard to Thursday’s incident, he said, “I trust the IDF will conduct a thorough, responsible and fair investigation, as it does always.”
Earlier in the day, the soldier's sister
said on social media that the charges against him were "absurd" and that the family was "appalled" by his arrest.
"The system accuses my brother of murder after a terrorist had come to kill him," the sister of the soldier, whose name is being withed from publication, wrote on her Facebook page. "I'm not sure if the [army] is aware of this absurdity... our loving family is appalled."
On Thursday, Military Police arrested a soldier who was seen firing a shot to the head of an already wounded Palestinian terrorist, as he lay on his back in a Hebron street, near the Jewish Tel Rumeida neighborhood.
A volunteer for the NGO B’Tselem who lives near the scene of the incident filmed the shooting from the window of his home. It was posted online and immediately went viral, fueling condemnations from the left and right.
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.
The Facebook post continues by stating: "We sent the army this amazing, sensitive, smart and patriotic kid... He was [in the army] out of a sense of mission. He always told me, 'I am proud to serve my country.'"
In the wake of Thursday's incident, a rash of condemnations from both military and political figures were made public.
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Moti Almoz said hours after the event that "this is not the culture of the IDF, and not the culture of the Jewish people and not connected to military framework in anyway."
Further denouncements of the soldier's actions resonated from both the center and the left of the political spectrum, with Yesh Atid faction chairman MK Ofer Shelach saying "the murderous cruelty of the terrorists is not a reason for the IDF to abandon its values."
Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg praised the organization Betzelem for distributing the video. "Without B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence we would have never known or seen," Zandberg wrote on Twitter.
In response to the denunciations, the soldier's sister wrote how she and her family felt deserted by senior military and political officials who were using her brother as "pawn" for their own purposes.
"These senior officials have abandoned my little brother... and he is being used as a scapegoat," she wrote.
Following his Thursday night arrest, the soldier claimed he "did the right thing at the right time in order to prevent anything else bad from happening," while speaking to family members in a private conversation.
The soldier added that he feared that the terrorist 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. Tovah Lazaroff, Lahav Harkov and Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.