The next Hebron-shooter level of IDF saga might have arrived.
Soldier friends at the Gaza border took a video of a sniper shooting someone – who by all rights appears to be an unarmed and non-threatening Palestinian – from a far distance and laughing about it.
The hardest thing about proving a war crime is proving intent.
How can you possibly prove murderous intent in war when bullets and shells and rockets are zinging by left and right? Who can think clearly and who does not feel in danger? Famous phrases like the “fog of war” express a reality that means even the most lethal and tragic mistakes cannot be prosecuted more than at a level of negligence, if that.
You would almost need to shoot someone who was holding a white flag while naked in order to show the impossibility of the victim concealing a weapon.
Or that was true until the digital age.
What was so unique – from a legal evidentiary perspective – about the Hebron shooter who shot a neutralized Palestinian terrorist as he lay on the ground, was that, second-by-second, the judges said they could see exactly how calm and free of fear Elor Azaria
was, despite his claims to the contrary.
We do not yet know who this Gaza sniper was, when the incident occurred or what happened to the Palestinian. Maybe someone will produce another video in which someone yells that the Palestinian is carrying a bomb or that shows him to be armed.
There were multiple videos of the Hebron shooter incident; some of them seemed to provide a real defense.
But what sank Azaria with the judges was that the main video showed that he was calm and unafraid despite shouted warnings about a possible hidden bomb.
There may be 100 ways in which this Gaza saga is different and less serious, but from a first glance, the video seems to show the same thing.
The voice of the sniper who shoots, and the voices of his friends, are calm, collected and playful regarding what they are doing.
There is no apparent threat.
It would appear there could not be more damaging evidence in terms of proving intent and in removing the standard set of defenses that will likely be used to protect virtually all other IDF soldiers involved in altercations at the Gaza border.
The IDF, which has staunchly defended its conduct overall, immediately said it would investigate the incident. The vibe given off said this was not business as usual.
Unless there is more than meets the eye, this could easily be the start of a whole new saga of an IDF soldier on trial.