IDF Colonel Cleared in Shooting of Terrorist

YERUSHALAYIM -

An IDF Colonel who shot dead a Palestinian who had thrown a rock at his vehicle was cleared of wrongdoing on Sunday after a lengthy investigation.

Col. Yisrael Shomer, commander of the Binyamin Brigade, killed Muhammad al-Casba, 17, on July 3, in an incident that was captured on video and widely distributed by B’tselem. The video, which did not show the actual shooting, only what happened just before and after, led to the investigation. Shomer was the highest ranking officer in the IDF ever subjected to such an investigation up to this time.

The incident took place near a-Ram, adjacent to Ramallah, as Shomer was traveling to the Kalandiya checkpoint, when the rock hit and broke his windshield.

B’tselem alleged that when Shomer shot him, al-Casba was fleeing the scene, already around 30 feet away and was not threatening his life in any way.

However, Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek ruled that Shomer had properly executed the rules of engagement for apprehending a suspect by first firing two warning shots and then aiming and firing twice for al-Casba’s legs.

Afek stated that Shomer missed by mistake, due to firing while moving, as opposed to firing from a static standing position, and that despite this unintentional error, the decision to shoot at the attacker’s legs had been correct.

Despite the gravity of Shomer’s mistake, it occurred in “unambiguously operational circumstances,” Afex explained, and did not qualify as a criminal offense.