Autopsy of Palestinian could determine fate of IDF shooter in Hebron

Investigation reveals that 10 minutes after shooting, the commander of the battalion referred the matter to the the military police.

March 28, 2016 08:17
3 minute read.

IDF soldier shoots dead subdued Palestinian terrorist in Hebron, part of Elor Azaria case

IDF soldier shoots dead subdued Palestinian terrorist in Hebron, part of Elor Azaria case


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The lawyer for the Kfir Brigade soldier suspected of murdering a terrorist in Hebron on Thursday after the Palestinian was immobilized said Sunday night that the autopsy could be a boon for his client’s defense.

The Palestinian and an accomplice had attacked another soldier with knives, and then was wounded. He is seen on a video, which immediately went viral, lying on the ground motionless for an extended period until the accused soldier, who arrived after the attack, suddenly, and seemingly without cause, shoots the Palestinian dead, causing blood to pour out of his head.

Defense lawyer Ilan Katz argued that the autopsy of the terrorist could save the soldier from both murder and manslaughter charges if it shows that he was already fatally wounded and would have died from his earlier wounds.

In that case, he might only face charges for negligent homicide or for violating the rules of engagement.

Conversely, if the autopsy shows that the Palestinian was not already fatally wounded, Katz will argue that he was not as badly hurt as the video seems to imply, and that the additional shooting was necessary to neutralize him as a threat.

The prosecution is expected to oppose these arguments, arguing that the Palestinian was alive when shot and that the soldier had murderous intent regardless of the extent of his prior wounds.

Whatever happens with the autopsy, the movement of Katz to this line of argument from the original self-defense argument could indicate that the soldier and his lawyers have realized a self-defense assertion may not hold up in court.

Another soldier, serving in the same unit as the accused soldier, has revealed to army investigators what the soldier told him before the incident, it was reported late Saturday night.

“A terrorist who stabs our friend must die,” the shooting soldier who is now being held in prison allegedly told his comrade.

The soldier witness told investigators that he tried to calm his friend down, explaining to him that the IDF soldier wounded in the knife attack in Hebron was only lightly injured.

The accused soldier’s testimony is consistent with the military court transcript regarding his claim that he opened fire because he feared that the terrorist would detonate an explosive device.

A military source said that the soldier, an infantryman in the Kfir Brigade, arrived six minutes after the attack and was not part of the “organic forces” on the scene. The source said that an army commander, before the soldier opened fire, checked the neutralized terrorist to see if he was wearing an explosive belt.

“Even in the video clip of the incident this commander can be seen standing next to the terrorist,” the source said.

“The guidelines for explosive belts are clear. Soldiers know them well. First, the area must be cleared to avoid loss of life if the explosives detonate. In this case there were officers, commanders and there were many things that needed to be done on the ground before opening fire. Even if a terrorist moves a little, you don’t shoot him in the head. There are clear guidelines on this,” the source said.

The investigation also revealed that after the incident the commander of the unit asked the soldier why he shot the Palestinian. The commander told investigators that the suspect answered that the Palestinian “deserved to die.”

At this point the commander said he removed the soldier from the area of the attack and reported the incident to his superiors. The investigation revealed that 10 minutes after the shooting the commander of the battalion referred the matter to the Military Police.

Noam Amir of Ma'ariv contributed to this story.

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