IDF Soldier Won’t Be Charged With Murder

YERUSHALAYIM -

The IDF soldier who shot a disarmed Palestinian terrorist last week in Chevron will not be charged with murder but a lesser charge, the military prosecutors said Thursday, citing “significant developments” in the case.

IDF attorney Lt. Col. Adoram Reigler told the court that charges would be downgraded, though he did not give details on the developments, nor whether it would be downgraded to manslaughter or a less serious crime.

Reigler did note that the defendant is still believed to have shot the assailant “deliberately and unnecessarily,” and that an indictment was justified.

For the defense, however, the soldier’s lawyer said that there were several witnesses who could back up his claim that he feared the stabber was wearing an explosive belt concealed under his coat.

During Thursday’s hearing, an officer in the army’s Criminal Investigations Department (CID) who was asked by a state attorney, “There (were) suspicions of a combined incident with a knife and an explosive?” confirmed that there were such suspicions.

However, when the attorney tried the followup question, “Does that mean that according to the testimonies there was a potential situation in which everyone could have been blown up?” the officer would not be drawn, stating only, “I don’t want to mislead.”

Meanwhile, Joint (Arab) List MKs Ahmad Tibi and Osama Saadi condemned the prosecutor’s decision to seek indictment on a lesser charge than murder.

“This is a soldier who committed a criminal act of murder, as is clearly seen in the video, and the decision [to charge him with manslaughter] was influenced by the comments of the prime minister, who asked [us] to consider the family of the soldier,” said the two lawmakers in a statement. They added the decision “proves once again that such incidents must be investigated by an international war crimes tribunal.”

In a separate hearing, the Israeli High Court ruled that the family of the terrorist who was shot, al-Sharif, will be allowed to choose a doctor to attend the autopsy of their son. Results of the autopsy could significantly affect the case, since if it is found that he was already dead when the soldier fired the shot, it would preclude a charge of manslaughter; on the other hand, if it confirms that he was still alive at the time, manslaughter remains a possibility.

Also it emerged that the stringer in Chevron who filmed the incident for left-wing rights group B’Tselem was called in for questioning by police. It was Emad abu-Shamsiyah’s film clip that sparked the furor over the shooting.

Right-wing Israeli activists filed a complaint with police against abu-Shamsiyah, alleging that he had conspired with the two Palestinian stabbers who attacked soldiers in Chevron’s Tel Rumeida neighborhood.

Attorney Itamar Ben Gvir and Bentzi Gopstein, leader of the anti-Arab Lehava organization, who filed the complaint, said:

“It is worth noting that this was not the first time in which activists of the radical left-wing group B’Tselem are in the right place as far as they are concerned, and at the right time as far as they are concerned,” Ben Gvir said.

“It would be naive to think this is a coincidence. It would be appropriate to examine whether there is some coordination between different people carrying out the attacks and found in the same place at precisely the same time.”