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Israeli soldier shoots Palestinian on ground: Now being charged with murder
(March 24, 2016) two Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces after an alleged knife attack where an Israeli soldier was lightly wounded. Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi died instantly of the gun wounds while Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif was left bleeding on the ground. In the video released by B’Tselem, the army’s medical team gives treatment to the soldier while ignoring the heavily wounded al-Sharif. Another soldier is then seen pointing his gun at the Palestinian on the ground before shooting him in the head at point blank range. The video went viral, Israeli politicians commented on the case, and the soldier is now being charged with murder.
After the video’s release on B’Tselem’s website, it has stirred much outrage and been discussed in Israeli, Palestinian, and international media. Many consider the incident a clear extrajudicial execution; al-Sharif was not simply still moving while left on the ground to bleed to death, but specifically murdered when posing no threat to the surrounding Israelis, one of whom is heard describing al-Sharif as a “dog.”
Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the case: “What happened in Hebron does not represent the values of the Israeli Defense Forces.” Yet this statement does not necessarily coincide with the reality on the ground or with Israel’s policies. In October, Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan stated that “every terrorist should know that he will not survive the attack he is about to perpetrate.”
Israel is now investigating the case while the soldier is being charged with murder for his actions. However, some have doubts about holding one individual accountable instead of blaming the military system. Issa Amro, coordinator of Youth Against Settlements, commented: “I know the soldier who carried out the order to shoot very well. He is from Ramla city, assigned to army communications. He was the soldier who accompanied me for more than 7 hours during my last arrest. He is not a fanatic or of the religious extreme. He only did what he was told to do, following the orders of his commanders. In the photos before the shooting, you see him taking orders from his commander.”
The issue of extrajudicial executions is not new. Since the killings beginning in autumn 2015, people have accused the army of using disproportionate force against alleged Palestinian knife attackers, displaying an intent to kill rather than to disarm. An example is the killing of Hadeel Hashlamoun on September 22. The 17-year-old Palestinian girl was accused of trying to stab a soldier, but footage of the incident strongly suggested her innocence. Her killing was then deemed extrajudicial. Both these cases raise the question of army morality when photo documentation is absent.