Dozens of people demonstrated Motzoei Shabbos outside the military prison near Be’er Sheva in support of the IDF soldier who was arrested Thursday after shooting a terrorist who had been neutralized and was lying on the ground.
The IDF said Friday that the soldier would be charged with murder, but at a press conference Motzoei Shabbos, the soldier’s family decried those charges. “From the moment the footage was released purporting to show what happened in Chevron, our brother has been turned into an enemy of the state,” said his sister. “All that is left to do is to execute him without allowing him to defend himself. I am afraid he will not be able to get a fair trial.”
The soldier was arrested by the army after footage surfaced which purports to show him shooting at the terrorist after he had already been neutralized by other soldiers. The incident occurred Thursday morning when two terrorists attacked an Israeli soldier in Tel Rumeida, Chevron.
In the video, a soldier is seen cocking his weapon and aiming it in the direction of one of the terrorists. Although the soldier is not seen in the footage because of a passing truck at the moment of the shooting, the terrorist is seen hit with a bullet, and blood flowing from his head. In the wake of the video and the uproar it raised in the Israeli media, the IDF arrested the soldier and is holding him while an investigation takes place.
Army Radio quoted family members as saying that the soldier had told them that he shot at the terrorist because he had moved, and was apparently not dead. The soldier feared he would get up and grab a weapon to attack another soldier, or would set off a bomb he could be wearing. Indeed, footage surfaced later Friday showing several officers shouting that the terrorist was moving and that he might set off a bomb. On Motzoei Shabbos, an IDF spokesperson said that although that footage is accurate, an officer had already ascertained that the terrorist was not carrying a bomb.
Speaking to Army Radio, the soldier’s attorney said that the footage was clearly taken to present a specific point of view and did not take into consideration all the circumstances involved. “Let us not join a mindless parade demanding this soldier’s blood. He is working to defend us, to defend our children,” said the attorney. “The guilty parties will certainly pay the appropriate price.”
In a statement Friday, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkottt said that “this is not the IDF, these are not the values of the IDF and this is not the culture of the IDF.” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated that thought, saying that “what happened in Chevron does not represent the values of the IDF. The IDF expects its soldiers to behave levelheadedly and in accordance with the rules of engagement.”
However, by Motzoei Shabbos Netanyahu had changed his tune, saying that “IDF soldiers with their bodies prevent murderous terror attacks and protect Israelis, and are worthy of all support. The attacks on the IDF as an immoral army, as has happened this weekend, are unacceptable and unworthy. The IDF is a moral army and it does not randomly execute people. As far as the latest incident is concerned. I am sure that the IDF will conduct a thorough investigation, as is always done.”