Autopsy May Determine Fate of IDF Soldier Who Shot Neutralized Terrorist

Israeli security forces inspect the scene as the dead body of one of two Palestinians, whom the Israeli military said were shot dead by Israeli troops after they attacked an Israeli soldier, is covered in Tal Rumaida in the West Bank city of Hebron March 24, 2016. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma
Israeli security forces inspect the scene where a Palestinian was shot dead by IDF troops after he attacked an Israeli soldier, in Tel Rumeida in Chevron, March 24. (Reuters/Mussa Qawasma)

More than a week after the incident, the IDF Prosecutor’s Office still has not filed formal charges against a soldier who is accused of violating protocol when he shot a terrorist who was already neutralized and on the ground. That could change after an autopsy is conducted on the body of the Arab terrorist Sunday, to determine whether or not he was alive and capable of picking up a knife or setting off an explosive device while he was on the ground.

At a hearing last week, a military court denied prosecutors’ requests to keep the soldier in prison for another eight days as it attempted to build a manslaughter case against him. The soldier is now confined to base and has turned in his weapon. At the hearing, prosecutors informed the court that they would not charge the soldier with murder, as originally planned, but with manslaughter under extenuating circumstances.

The furor surrounding the incident has been aggravated by numerous videos which have been distributed showing the events, some with and some without sound. The soldier, who has not been named, was arrested by the army after footage surfaced which purports to show the soldier shooting at the terrorist after he had already been neutralized by other soldiers. The incident occurred Purim 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. After the footage was released, a media furor broke out Thursday night, and the soldier was arrested.

Numerous officials, including IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, immediately condemned the action as “not being in line with the values of the IDF.” Netanyahu later backtracked, and last week called the family of the soldier to tell them that he would guarantee that he would get a fair hearing, despite the media furor.

The soldier has said that he shot the terrorist, who had attempted to stab two other soldiers, because he had detected movement, indicating that although neutralized, he was not dead – and that he feared the terrorist would get up and grab a weapon to attack another soldier, or set off a bomb that he might have been wearing.

Another hearing will be held on the matter Tuesday, and it is expected that the results of the autopsy will have a “significant impact” on the proceedings.

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