Soldier Suspected of Hebron Manslaughter Released to Open Arrest

Prosecutor says the suspect didn’t shoot Palestinian attacker due to life threat.

The IDF soldier who shot the wounded Palestinian terrorist in Hebron being escorted to court on the day after the incident, on March 25, 2016.
Ofer Vaknin

A military court discussed on Friday the prosecution's appeal of the decision to release to open arrest the soldier suspected of manslaughter for the shooting of a wounded Palestinian attacker.

The prosecution and the soldier's defense team agreed to continue the discussion of the case on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the soldier, identified as E., will be released to open arrest. He is prohibited from carrying firearms or talking with any witnesses of the shooting.

On Thursday, a military tribunal ruled that that the soldier who shot wounded Palestinian assailant Abdel Fattah al-Sharif after he stabbed another soldier in Hebron last week will face manslaughter charges. The military judge, Lt. Col. Ronen Shor, ordered that the soldier be 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.

The soldier's attorney, Eyal Baserglick, claimed on Friday that the appeal doesn’t contain any new legal arguments, and that Shor had decided that he should be released to open arrest after examining all related evidence.

The attorney added that his client "hadn’t meant to murder or kill, he intended to save [lives]."

Chief military prosecutor Col. Sharon Zagagi-Pinhas said that it is "impossible to accept [the soldier's] claim that he acted out of a threat to life or because of operational necessity, but it clearly emerges that that his shooting of the terrorist was a deliberate shooting that he decided to carry out without an operational need, and all of this when the terrorist was subdued and still alive."

The prosecutor described the shooting during the court hearing. "Coldly and not out of a threat that the terrorist posed in our opinion, he shoots the terrorist in the head. Two officers, a platoon commander and a company commander, stand next to the terrorist during the shooting. He doesn’t shout out to them, he doesn’t warn them against the terrorist. Neither of them acts in a similar way to the respondent and shows signs of action under danger."

"Our dispute is an evidential dispute. Contrary to the position of the court, we don’t believe that there is evidence both ways here, but that the evidence that has been gathered so far presents a very clear picture of what happened during the incident. In our opinion, it suits a strong evidential basis to establish the evidence of the suspect," she added.

Lt. Col. Aduram Riegler, the IDF’s attorney for operational affairs, said in court that "the soldier's version [of events] is an evolving version, and parts of it aren’t consistent with the evidence.

At the end of the discussion, the soldier's father thanked the Israeli people for their support. "The road is long and the truth will come to light," he said.