An Israel Defense Forces soldier who shot a camel was sentenced to four months by the military tribunal on Tuesday. His colleague from the elite undercover Duvdevan unit who filmed the incident was sentenced to two months. Both soldiers were demoted to the rank of private.
The military defense advocate plans to appeal the sentence of the soldier who shot the camel, arguing that it branded his client “as a criminal.”
The charges against the soldiers, filed in December, accused them of animal abuse, illegal use of arms and obstruction of justice, although only one actually shot the camel while the other filmed it.
The prosecution argued that the soldier who filmed “was a full partner in the incident of shooting the camel.” He saw the shooter take his gun, cock it and slow down by the camel. While the fate of the camel was not documented, this is very likely the camel found dead at around the same time, in around the same area.
Both soldiers were held in military jail throughout the trial. The soldier who filmed the event, whose sentence is the result of a plea bargain, will be released at the start of February.
Both soldiers had been on vacation when the incident occurred. But when the story broke on December 7, the army suspended both men from duty.
Last July, a ministerial committee approved a legislative bill cracking down on animal abuse in civilian life, changing the maximum penalty from three years in prison to five.
Capt. Lior Ayish and Lt. Hila Kantarovich, the military defense lawyers representing the soldier who shot the camel, complained that the sentence handed down, and especially the “taint” of a criminal record, were excessive toward their client. “The soldier, salt of the earth and an outstanding fighter, expressed his regret to the court and took full responsibility,” which attests to his character, they said in a statement.
They urged that the minority opinion be accepted, which was to sentence the shooter to 60 days, “avoid staining him with a full criminal record” – as was done with the soldier who documented events – and let him resume his military duties and contribute to society.