Tuesday, November 29th | 5 Kislev 5783

March 25, 2016 6:04 pm

‘It’s a Thin Line Between Heroism and Murder,’ Say Comrades of IDF Soldier Under Investigation for Shooting Subdued Terrorist

avatar by Ruthie Blum

A scene from the B'Tselem video in the immediate aftermath of the Palestinian stabbing attack in Hebron on Thursday. Photo: Screenshot.

A scene from the B’Tselem video in the immediate aftermath of the Palestinian stabbing attack in Hebron on Thursday. Photo: Screenshot.

“It’s a thin line between heroism and murder,” said comrades of the IDF soldier caught on camera shooting to death a Palestinian terrorist after he was subdued, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Friday.

They were referring to Thursday’s stabbing attack in Hebron, committed by two assailants, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif and Ramzi al-Kasrawi, against an IDF soldier guarding the road leading to the Jewish neighborhood of Tel Rumeida. The terrorists were both killed by soldiers on the scene.

One of them appears alive in the opening of a three-minute clip filmed and circulated by a volunteer with the Israeli NGO B’Tselem. And then the cocking and firing of a gun is heard, after which the terrorist was dead.

Condemnations from across Israel’s political spectrum and defense establishment were immediately issued, as the video went viral. The infantry soldier, from the Kfir Brigade, has been taken before a military court as a suspect in the murder of the terrorist.

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The soldier’s comrades said that their commanders have been questioning them since the incident happened, and that “each has something to say about it.” According to Walla, they fear becoming “scapegoats” of the media and international community.

“I hope that whoever has to shoot [during a terrorist incident] does so in accordance with the rules — not because we’re afraid of a Military Police investigation, but because of the ethical issue,” one soldier told Walla.

Another said he “trusts our comrades to operate as is warranted.”

“What happened in Hebron doesn’t represent the values of the IDF,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “The IDF expects its soldiers to behave level-headedly and in accordance with the rules of engagement.”

The IDF, too, issued a statement: “An initial investigation into the incident found this to be a very grave incident that contravenes the IDF’s values and what is expected of its soldiers and commanders. In light of the findings of the initial investigation done by the commanders at the scene, the investigation was passed on to the IDF’s Criminal Investigation Division.”

On Friday morning, another video was released, according to Walla, which captures the evacuation of the soldier stabbed by the terrorist – and before the controversial shooting.

“He seems to have a bomb on him,” one soldier is heard saying in the clip. “Pay attention. Until someone from the bomb squad gets here, nobody touches him.”

One of the few Israeli politicians who did not immediately condemn the soldier under investigation was Education Minister Naftali Bennett from the Jewish Home party, who visited the scene of the incident Friday morning and posted about it on his Facebook page.

“Has anyone heard the soldier’s version?” he asked. “The entire leadership of the country hurried to attack the soldier who shot the terrorist. Were you there? Did you understand his thinking? His considerations? Maybe he feared the terrorist was booby-trapped? And that he would explode on the soldiers and civilians in the area?”

Bennet continued: “What chance does he have of getting a fair trial when the prime minister, the defense minister, the chief of staff and the media have already denounced him? This is the time to act responsibly, not with belligerence; for careful thought, not impulse. Unfortunately, it appears that the cool-headedness and self-control we demand of soldiers at the scene of a terrorist attack do apply to us.”

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