Netanyahu Reassures Father of Soldier Who Shot to Death Prone Palestinian

'As a father of a soldier, I understand your distress,' the prime minister says, and pledges the system will be 'professional and fair with your son.'

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

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Thursday with the father of the soldier being court martialed for suspected manslaughter for the deadly shooting of a wounded Palestinian attacker last week in Hebron.

"As a father of a soldier I understand your distress," Netanyahu told the father as the military judge, Lt. Col. Ronen Shor, ordered the soldier released from jail and instead kept under open arrest at his base, the headquarters of the Kfir Brigade.

However, since the military prosecution said it intends to appeal this decision, the judge agreed to stay its execution until Friday.

Shor’s ruling also stated that while under open arrest, the soldier may not make contact with witnesses in the case or carry a gun. 

“The suspect wasn’t defined as a command element in the field, and no one disputes that he acted of his own initiative,” Shor wrote. “Therefore, there’s a reasonable suspicion that he exceeded his authority and committed the shooting illegally.”

The soldier’s attorney, Ilan Katz, said after the hearing, “The judge has already gotten the impression that the factual basis doesn’t accord even with the suspicion that appears on the form requesting an extension of [the soldier’s] arrest – that is, the suspicion of manslaughter. His honor the judge’s decision, which was given despite various regrettable statements, should be respected.”

"Our soldiers have faced terrorist attacks and murderers who try to kill them with courage and determination," Netanyahu continued during his phone call. "They are required to make decisions in real time, on the ground, under pressure and in a situation of uncertainty.

"This is a not an easy reality and I am sure that the examination will take all these circumstances into account.  I am convinced that it will be professional and fair with your son," Netanyahu said.

"I trust the IDF, the chief of staff and the investigation 100 percent, and I think that you as well should trust the commanders and the examination.

"The Israeli people must remain united around its army because we have only one army and many great challenges ahead," the prime minister added.

"I wanted to tell you heart to heart that all that you have to say,  say so within the framework of the examination – it is real, professional and fair. I ask you to understand this, not to think for a moment that your son will not get the fairest and most objective examination. I ask that you relay this to the whole family."

Earlier, an IDF a military tribunal ruled the soldier would face manslaughter charges. Lt. Col. Aduram Riegler, the IDF’s attorney for operational affairs, said during the tribunal that “the soldier is suspected of shooting deliberately and without need from an operational standpoint while the terrorist lay on the ground after the same terrorist had previously been shot by IDF soldiers.”

Riegler said that one cannot see any life-threatening signs or need for self-defense from the videotape. “The suspect doesn’t throw the helmet down and charge at the terrorist, he doesn’t shout. He cocks his gun while in a standing position, in what appears to be cool-headed behavior.”