Polygraph backs up officer's claims in shooting case

Lt.-Col. Omri Burbarg says he didn't order his soldier to shoot a rubber-coated bullet from close range at handcuffed Palestinian.

soldier shoot pally 224. (photo credit: AP [file])
soldier shoot pally 224.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Lt.-Col. Omri Burbarg, commander of Armored Battalion 71 and suspected of ordering one of his soldiers to shoot a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian, underwent a polygraph test on Wednesday in which he was found to be telling the truth in denying the allegations against him. On Sunday, the human rights group B'tselem released a videotape showing a soldier firing a rubber-coated bullet from close range toward the feet of a bound, blindfolded Palestinian man, being escorted by Burbarg. IDF Judge Advocate-General Brig.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit ordered the Military Police to launch an immediate investigation into the incident. On Monday Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the shooting contradicted basic IDF ethics and principles. The shooting took place on July 7, on the outskirts of the village of Na'alin, near Ramallah, where in recent weeks - and again on Wednesday - Palestinian protesters violently protested against the construction of the security fence nearby. In the incident two weeks ago, soldiers imposed a curfew and fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the protesters. According to sources close to Burbarg, acting upon the advice of his attorneys, underwent a polygraph examination Wednesday morning in which he was found to be telling the truth that he did not order the soldier to shoot the handcuffed Palestinian. The soldier, who was released from arrest on Monday, told the Military Police that he discharged the shot under orders from his commander. The sources said that despite the results, Burbarg did not excuse himself from overall responsibility for the shooting, which took place in his presence and under his command. He has claimed that he told the soldier to "shake his gun" and scare the detainee. Burbarg will undergo a second polygraph test under the auspices of the Military Police next week. The Military Police and Mandelblit are expected to decide in the coming days if the IDF will press charges against the soldier or the commander. OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot will also decide whether to impose disciplinary measures against the officer.