Israeli Army Closes Probe Into Officer Who Killed Fleeing Palestinian Stone-thrower

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Screenshot from the B'Tselem video. Red circle marks the stone thrower behind the vehicle.

A criminal investigation into an IDF officer who shot to death a stone-throwing Palestinian youth last summer has been closed.

Military Advocate General Brig. Gen.Sharon Afek announced that the case into Binyamin Brigade commander Col. Yisrael Shomer has been closed because the incident was not criminal, and therefore there was no need to carry out further legal proceedings against the officer.

Last July, Shomer shot Mohammad Kosba, a 17-year-old from the Qalandiyah refugee camp north of Jerusalem, after he threw a rock at Shomer's vehicle near the West Bank village of Al-Ram.

Security camera footage obtained and released by the human rights group B'Tselem appeared to show the rock throwing and the chase after Kosba. In the video, soldiers are seen quickly exiting the jeep after a rock hit it and broke the windshield. As the soldiers exit the vehicle, Kosba can be seen running in the other way. The camera also does not show the shooting itself, but after about 30 seconds, the soldiers are seen returning to the jeep and driving away. According to B’Tselem, Kosba had fled by this time, and was not a danger to the soldiers.

The shooting of Mohammad Kosba by the commander of the Binyamin BrigadeCredit: B'Tselem

According to the IDF, after stones were thrown at the vehicle, Shomer initiated the IDF-sanctioned procedure to arrest Kosba, in which it is permissible to shoot at a suspect’s legs.

B’Tselem researcher Iyad Hadad, who photographed Kosba’s body, said the Palestinian had been hit by three bullets, one in the face and two in the back. There is no indication of gunshot injuries to Kosba’s legs, as shooting a suspect during the process of an arrest would have produced.

A military investigation found that after Kosba threw a rock at the vehicle, Shomer got out of the jeep and carried out the procedure to arrest him, which included, according to the findings, warning calls, shots in the air and two shots that were aimed at the Kosba's legs. The investigation found that Shomer fire while he was in motion, resulting in an inaccurate shot that hit Kosba in the upper body.

The military advocate general found that Shomer's shooting was justified as part of the procedure to arrest a suspect. The fact that Shomer fired inaccurately as a result of his shooting while in motion was defined by Afek as "a professional mistake in the way he fired, but one that was made in clearly operational circumstances." Therefore, Afek decided, the investigation could be closed without taking any further legal steps

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