Officers condemn civilian's shooting

Civilian's wounding called one of the 'most severe' deviations from IDF ethics.

Gadi Shamni 298.88 (photo credit: IDF)
Gadi Shamni 298.88
(photo credit: IDF)
The unjustified shooting of a Palestinian civilian and the alleged illegal commandeering of a car in the West Bank village of Dahariya last week was one of the "most severe" deviations from IDF norms and ethics in recent years, senior officers in the Central Command said on Saturday. On Friday, a military court at the IDF's Tzrifin base near Ramle extended the remand of a Lavi Battalion platoon commander and one of his soldiers who were involved in the shooting, which took place on Thursday in Dahariya, south of Hebron. The evening of the shooting, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni ordered the Military Police to open a criminal investigation into the incident. IDF sources said Saturday it was almost certain that the platoon commander and the soldier who shot the civilian would be indicted on a range of criminal charges - including attempted murder and the unlawful commandeering of a Palestinian vehicle. "We see this as one of the most severe deviations from IDF ethics and morals in the past few years," one officer said, adding that Shamni was planning to convene all of the brigade commanders in the West Bank to teach them about the case and to warn them of its consequences. Over the weekend, an officer in the Civil Administration's Hebron office visited the wounded man's family in Dahariya and issued all of them permits to enter Israel so they could visit him at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. The incident occurred on Thursday morning, when five soldiers from the Lavi Battalion, led by their platoon commander, were helicoptered from their base near the settlement of Otniel to nearby Dahariya for a routine patrol. During the patrol, the soldiers commandeered a vehicle and then opened fire at an innocent Palestinian bystander, who they later said was "suspicious." The soldiers did not report the shooting and continued their patrol. The battalion commander heard about the incident later, after the Palestinian was evacuated to a nearby IDF checkpoint. The Palestinian, who sustained moderate wounds, survived. "There are serious moral and ethical questions involved here," a military source said. "They left the wounded Palestinian in the field and did not offer him any medical treatment. This is against IDF regulations, according to which soldiers are obligated to provide medical treatment to Palestinian terrorists after they shoot them." Alongside the Military Police investigation, Shamni ordered Kfir Brigade commander Col. David Menahem to probe the incident and to draw lessons from it that could be studied by other Central Command units. Menahem, meanwhile, has suspended the entire Lavi company whose platoon was involved. In their initial debriefing, the soldiers said that during the patrol one of their comrades sprained his ankle and could no longer walk. They said the commander decided to commandeer a Palestinian taxi. After tying up the taxi driver, the soldiers said that another, "suspicious," Palestinian approached the car and one of them shot him. IDF sources said Saturday it appeared that the soldiers had lied and that no one had sprained his ankle. The sources said that the platoon commander decided on his own initiative to commandeer the taxi, possibly with the intention of conducting an unauthorized undercover operation.•