Video of Israeli Soldier Shooting Subdued Assailant in Hebron Wasn’t Tampered With, Expert Says

The footage shows the killing of a Palestinian who had stabbed a soldier but was already wounded on the ground.

IDF soldier Elor Azaria, charged with manslaughter in shooting death of a Palestinian in March in Hebron, in the military court in Jaffa, in April, 2016.
Moti Milrod

The video showing an Israeli soldier shooting a subdued Palestinian in Hebron was not tampered with, a forensics expert told a military court Wednesday, answering claims that the video had been altered.

In March, Sgt. Elor Azaria was filmed shooting Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, who had stabbed an Israeli soldier. Azaria, who is on trial for manslaughter, says he feared that al-Sharif may have been carrying an explosive device.

On Wednesday, forensics and digital-evidence expert Ron Gurel told the court he saw no sign that the video had been altered.

“One of the people there repeated several times that [al-Sharif] could have an explosive device on him; don’t touch him until the bomb squad arrives,” Gurel said, adding that the person shouting this had been standing next to al-Sharif.

“Any intervention in the film leaves a mark, sometimes faint, sometimes screaming to the skies. In this case ... I gave the highest marks for originality. I found no sign attesting to any intervention in the content. If there had been any editing, I would have seen it.”

The military judge, Carmel Wahabi, asked, “In your professional opinion, are these files unchanged?” To which Gurel answered, “That’s right.”

Azaria’s lawyer, Eyal Besserglick, says Imad Abu Shamsiyeh, who documented the killing, wasn’t there by happenstance. Azaria and his batallion’s deputy commander had arrested Shamsiyeh’s son a month and a half earlier, Besserglick says.

Imad Abu Shamsiyeh arriving to give evidence in military court, June 7, 2016.
David Bachar

Shamsiyeh, who came to court under heavy guard, told the judge that his son had indeed been arrested but he didn’t know by whom.

“He was accused of things. The police took him, then released him,” Shamsiyeh said. “If there had been anything against my son, he would have been tried.”