The army is investigating an incident in which soldiers on the Gaza border apparently filmed themselves cursing and cheering at Palestinians while shooting them.
The video was released on social media Monday as part of the media battle pro-Palestinians and pro-Israelis have waged on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with regard to incidents surrounding the so-called “Great March of Return” that began on March 30.
It was initially believed to have depicted IDF snipers shooting at “Great March” participants. But the IDF said on Tuesday that it was actually filmed on December 22.
In the video, a number of soldiers can be heard talking as one looks through a rifle scope at Palestinians on the Gaza side of the border and target one of them.
All the video shows is the scene just before and just beyond border through the rifle scope.
“I see that he is coming out, I’ll take him down,” one soldier says.
“Do you have a bullet in the barrel?”
“I can’t because of the barbed wire.”
The soldiers note that there is a small child within their sight.
They spoke of one of the Palestinians they had targeted.
“Why does he always bend over when we are ready to shoot?
A shot is heard on the video and the Palestinian man can be seen falling on the ground.
A soldier can be heard cheering.
“Wow, what a video!” he states.
“Son of a whore,” said one of the soldiers of the Palestinian.
“What a legendary video!”
“He flew in the air with his foot up,” a soldier says.
THE IDF said that the video was taken during a violent incident that lasted for more than two hours, during which time Palestinians were asked to disperse.
During that time, Palestinians threw stones and tried to sabotage the security fence. The shot in the video was aimed at the foot of a Palestinian. He was wounded in the leg as he stood close to the fence, the IDF said.
The soldiers who filmed the video were not the soldiers who fired, and were not a regular part of the unit, the army said.
After a full operational investigation of the incident is completed, its recommendation will be passed on to military prosecution, the IDF said.
The soldiers who filmed and unlawfully distributed the videos will be disciplined according to regular procedures, the army said.
The cheering and swearing heard from the soldiers does not conform to the IDF’s code of conduct or meet the IDF’s expectations of its soldiers, the military said.
When asked about the incident on Tuesday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that every sniper deserved a medal.
The IDF “is the most moral army in the world,” he said.
But sometimes emotions run high in the heat of battle, he said.
PLO CHIEF NEGOTIATOR Saeb Erekat said, “Such hate and contempt for the life of a Palestinian is a reflection of the cruel mentality of Israel’s military occupation and the drive of its systematic shoot-to-kill policy against the Palestinian civilians.”
He called for an International Criminal Court investigation into the incident and claimed it is “the responsibility of the international community to hold Israel accountable, to secure international protection to our people, and to put an end to Israel’s prolonged occupation of Palestine.”
Education Minister and security cabinet member Naftali Bennett refused on Tuesday to condemn the soldiers heard on the video.
“To sit in Tel Aviv and criticize combat soldiers is illegitimate, to judge them while they protect our borders is illegitimate,” he said. “I support all IDF soldiers.”
Bennett asked whether Israeli society has “gone insane,” judging soldiers based on the “quality of their expressions.”
Other politicians were more hesitant to judge.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid tweeted on Monday: “I have full faith in the chief of staff and the IDF command that they will investigate the sniper video without hesitation and in line with the rules and values of the IDF. Israel’s moral standing is part of its national security and gives it the qualitative advantage over our enemies.”
Joint List MK Jamal Zahalka said, however, that “this recording is an example that proves the rule. The Israeli snipers murdered unarmed Palestinian protesters taking part in nonviolent demonstrations, in cold blood. This is a killing spree commanded by [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, Liberman and [IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi] Eisenkot.
“No wonder the soldiers behave this way when ministers, lawmakers, the media and public opinion are party to the jubilation at the mass killing of Palestinians in Gaza,” Zahalka said.Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.