IDF soldier shoots subdued Palestinian.
(photo credit: screenshot)
The IDF’s lead investigator in the Hebron shooter case testified on Wednesday that an ambulance driver had moved a knife closer to the wounded Palestinian attacker’s body after the shooting, implying he tampered with evidence to make the killing look more like self-defense.
Video footage that the prosecution unveiled at the Jaffa Military Court hearing showed that the knife was three to four meters away, clearly out of reach of Abdel Fatah al-Sharif, both before and after the shooting – until it was moved at an even later point.
The driver, Ofer Ohana, also was responsible for taking many of the videos of the incident, but the military police investigator, a major, said that at one point his video stopped, he moved the knife, and then his video started again.
The new accusations in the trial of Sgt. Elor Azaria, which has transfixed the nation and garnered major international attention since the March 24 shooting of Sharif who attacked soldiers but was incapacitated when Azaria shot him, were part of the first day of calling actual witnesses.
The shooting was picked up on a video distributed by B’Tselem – The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, which went viral online and has dominated the airwaves with a war of words over Azaria’s guilt or innocence.
Just before the major’s testimony, the prosecution made its opening statement, in which Lt.-Col. Nadav Weissman slammed Azaria as having broken with the IDF’s “fundamental values... regarding purity of arms.”
He confidently told the court that it should convict Azaria of manslaughter since he admits to almost all of the facts in the case regarding his shooting of Sharif, which shifts the burden of proof to the defense to prove self-defense.
Weissman further charged that Azaria has repeatedly changed his accounts of the incident and that the much-debated knife that the Palestinian assailant had used to stab a nearby soldier was not on the terrorist’s person, but out of reach.
In other testimony by the IDF major, he said Azaria sent a text message to his father following the incident, telling him that a colleague had been injured by a knife-wielding terrorist, that one terrorist was killed with the other wounded, but that Azaria had made sure to shoot the attacker who was still alive.
According to the major, additional video footage showed Azaria shaking hands with far-right activist Baruch Marzel and after the shooting incident.
Next, the major said that a fellow soldier initially said that before Azaria shot Sharif, he stated that the Palestinian “stabbed my friend, he deserved death.” The soldier later said Azaria made the remarks after shooting the Palestinian attacker, the major said.