(photo credit: Ariel Schalit)
A Tel Aviv military court decided not to demote a former battalion commander on Thursday who was filmed allegedly ordering a soldier to shoot a rubber bullet at a blindfolded Palestinian during a demonstration near Ni’lin almost three years ago.
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Lt.-Col. Omri Burberg, the former commander of Battalion 71 of the Armored Corps, was caught on camera standing next to a detained Palestinian and seemingly ordering a soldier next to him to shoot a rubber bullet at the detainee’s foot.
The soldier, St.-Sgt. Leonardo Correa, claimed that Burberg had ordered him to fire, but the officer told investigators that all he had told the soldier to do was “shake his gun” to scare the detainee who was lightly injured in the foot.
The court, led by Col. Yoel Zur, was critical of Burberg and called the video “a stab in the eye,” but ruled that the former battalion commander had already been punished with the decision to remove him from his post and to end his term prematurely. The court recommended suspending Burberg’s promotion for a year and that he refrain from holding a command post for the next two years.
“The shooting was a grave incident and was a violation of the IDF’s code of ethics,” the judges wrote in their decision.
Correa, who shot the detained Palestinian, has already been discharged from the IDF and was demoted to the rank of corporal.
B’Tselem, the organization that exposed the Ni’lin shooting, said in reaction to today’s military court verdict that it hoped the military internalized the court’s ruling that the Ni’lin shooting was a grave and disgraceful event.
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At the same time, B’Tselem noted the gap between the condemnation and the lenient sentence. B’Tselem reiterated that there had been far more severe cases of harm to Palestinians that the military justice system chose to ignore.
As he was leaving court accompanied by his wife, Burberg refused to answer questions but said that he was eager to return to active service.
“The only thing that interests me now is to get back to my family, to my wife, my daughter and after then, of course, to the army. I want to continue to serve.”
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