Israeli Army Says Troops’ Firing at Asylum Seekers Was Unjustified

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The fence along Israel's border with Egypt.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Southern Command chief Sami Turgeman says soldiers who fired at African asylum seekers at the Egyptian border acted unjustifiably and against the rules of engagement, military sources told Haaretz.

In the August incident, three migrants were wounded when Israelis shot at an armed man, the army said. The matter has been turned over to the military advocate general to determine whether the soldiers’ actions were criminal and whether the military police should get involved.

In August, the army changed its story on the shooting twice. First it said the asylum seekers had been wounded while crossing the border. Then it said they had been shot by Egyptian police. Only after an internal investigation did it turn out that the three migrants were wounded by Israeli troops.

According to the investigators, the soldiers fired because one man was armed and fired at Egyptian soldiers, not Israeli soldiers. He did not cross the fence into Israel and was not hurt.

When queried in the Knesset in August, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that since the matter was under scrutiny by the military advocate general, he could not comment.

MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) provided a tough response. “A suspicion arises that a defense minister, in a democratic country, is not answering questions about the firing on refugees,” she said.

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