Family of Slain Palestinian Attacker Doesn't Believe Israeli Probe Will Bring Justice

A relative of Abed al-Fattah al-Sharif, a knife-wielding assailant who was shot dead by a soldier after being subdued, says Israel won't allow a Palestinian pathologist's presence at his autopsy.

The soldier accused of shooting a neutralized attacker in Hebron appears in Military Court in Jaffa, March 27, 2016.
Ofer Vaknin

Israel refuses to divulge details about the investigation into the shooting of Abed al-Fattah Sharif, a Palestinian who was killed by an Israeli soldier on Thursday after carrying out a stabbing attack in Hebron, Sharif's cousin told Haaretz on Saturday.

The soldier was detained on Thursday after shooting Sharif in the head as the latter lay on the ground, wounded after being subdued by other troops. The incident was captured on video by an activist with the B'Tselem organizaiton. The Israeli army has opened an investigation into the shooting and Haaretz has learned that the soldier faces murder charges.

The soldier told military police during questioning over the weekend that he fired at Sharif because he thought he might be carrying a bomb. However, the military is treating his version with skepticism. Had he believed that the assailant was armed with an explosive device, he would have been expected to clear the scene. Furthermore, the gunfire could have set the bomb off.

In fact, the IDF's preliminary probe into the incident found that one of the commanders on the scene had searched the subdued assailants to make sure they were not carrying explosives. A military source says that the soldier was not instructed to deal with the attackers, and if he had thought they were carrying bombs, there were three commanders in the area could have dispelled his concerns.  

Sharif's family says that Israel has refused to allow a Palestinian pathologist to be present during his autopsy and that they have not received any information from an official Israeli source regarding the incident. However, Israeli authorities denied the claim, saying the family refused the offer of having a Palestinian pathologist present. 

Raed Sharif, Abed al-Fattah's cousin, told Haaretz that his body was still being held by Israel and that the family is waiting for the Israeli army to inform them when the body is to be transferred.

"We haven't received any information and we don't know whether an autopsy was performed or not," Sharif told Haaretz. "What we are interested in at the moment is receiving the body for burial."

The family has little faith in the investigation or in the Israeli army's legal system, Sharif said, and added that they do not believe he will be severely punished.

"At the end of the day, the soldier is being tried by the same system that sent him to Hebron," he said. "It's as if the judge and the accused are on the same side. We can't count on a judiciary system that is not independent. We are already hearing many reactions of officers, soldiers and Israeli politicians who are supporting the soldier and his actions."

Mourners carry the body of Ramzi al-Qasrawi, 21, a Palestinian man who was killed during a stabbing attack in Hebron, March 26, 2016.
AFP

The Palestinian media has covered the incident extensively over the weekend. Some reports have asserted that the shooting constitutes proof that Israeli forces commit extrajudicial executions of young Palestinians. The media have also claimed that the nature of the shooting only emerged because the incident was filmed, and that an external, international investigation is warranted.

Meanwhile in Hebron, thousands of Palestinians attended the funeral of Ramzi al-Qasrawi, Sharif's accomplice who was also killed by Israeli soldiers during the stabbing on Thursday. The funeral procession started at the al-Ahali Hospital before heading to al-Qasrawi's house and from there to the cemetery.

During the funeral procession mourners chanted slogans condemning Israel and calling for an international investigation that would force Israel to stop what they said was an Israeli policy of execution.