'Cmdr admits ordering soldier to fire'

Lt.-Col. Omri Burbag reportedly tells military police he instructed subordinate to shoot bound captive.

soldier shoot pally 224. (photo credit: AP [file])
soldier shoot pally 224.
(photo credit: AP [file])
An IDF commander who allegedly ordered a soldier to fire a rubber bullet at the foot of a bound Palestinian captive has admitted to doing so, Channel 10 reported Thursday evening. Lt.-Col. Omri Burbarg, commander of Armored Battalion 71, told military police investigators that he told the soldier to shoot, but claimed that the order was "a joke." The soldier, in response, has reportedly said that "there is no such thing as a joke. He is my battalion commander and I carry out his orders." According to the Channel 10 report, another soldier at the scene has confirmed that Burbarg gave the order to fire. The battalion commander was temporarily suspended from active duty on Tuesday after a polygraph test cast doubt on his version of events. Burbarg appeared before OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot on Tuesday for a hearing, after which he was ordered to take a 10-day leave of absence from his position. Eizenkot told Burbag the shooting of the Palestinian was against IDF values and demonstrated a breakdown in Burbag's command. The suspension came a day after Burbag failed a polygraph test given by the Military Police. Last week, he took a private polygraph test and was found to be responding truthfully to questions of whether he had ordered the soldier to shoot the detainee. The shooting took place on July 7 on the outskirts of the village of Ni'ilin, near Ramallah, where Palestinian demonstrators have been holding daily demonstrations against the construction of the nearby security fence. In the incident, soldiers imposed a curfew and fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the protesters. Burbag was caught on video leading the blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian to a military jeep, where the soldier was then seen raising his weapon and discharging a shot. The soldier claimed that Burbag 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. IDF Judge Advocate-General Brig.-Gen. Avihai Mandelblit will decide in the coming week whether to press charges against the battalion commander.