The Israeli military is examining the circumstances surrounding a video showing a sniper shooting a Palestinian in the Gaza Strip, after which exuberant cheers are heard. It was not immediately clear where and when the video was taken.
According to the IDF, the video appears to document an incident that occurred several months ago, and the military will thoroughly investigate it.
In the video, a man is heard asking "Do you have a bullet in the barrel?" and saying "is it on him?" Another voice is then heard saying "I can't see because of the wire" and noting that "there's a little boy there." The sniper then shoots and hits the Palestinians, while cries of enthusiasm are heard in the background. "Wow, what a video! Yes!" a man shouts, who adds: "Son of a bitch. What a video, here, run and get him out of there. Of course I filmed it." Later, someone else is heard saying "Wow, someone was hit in the head," "what a legendary video," "he flew in the air," and "get out, you sons of bitches."
According to military protocol, all live fire directed at protests requires approval by the most senior leadership in the field, usually on instructions from a brigade commander or battalion commander.
The video has provoked reactions on social media from both left and right wing Israeli lawmakers.
Jamal Zahalka of the Joint List said the video "indicates to the rule. Israeli snipers killed unarmed Palestinian protesters in cold blood who were participating in a non-violent protest," adding that it's no wonder soldiers act this way when ministers, MKs, the media and the public opinion join the celebration and cheer for the mass killing of Palestinians.
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Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid wrote on his Twitter account that he has full faith in IDF's Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and IDF commanders who will "investigate the sniper video without hesitating and according to the IDF's principles and orders. Israel's moral fortitude is part of the national security, and is what gives us the quality advantage over our enemies."
Likud MKs also responded to the video. Yehuda Glick said the video was "very hard to watch," and added that the atmosphere was "troubling and disappointing." Suspended MK Oren Hazan twittted: "What's all the fuss about? it was noted in advance: anyone who approaches the fence, armed or not, is gonna get it. As it should be!"
Hazan added he was proud of the soldiers defending Israel, and that he hopes the video sends "a clearer message to the other side."
It was reported Sunday that the military will launch an inquiry into the conduct of troops in the recent incidents on the Gaza Strip border, in which several protesters were killed by sniper fire. The investigation is to be headed by Brig. Gen. Moti Baruch, head of the General Staff's Doctrine and Training Division. The military has not yet decided how many of the deaths are to be probed, but it appears that the probe will center on incidents in which the casualties were civilians, including the death on Friday of Palestinian photographer Yaser Murtaja.
According to the Health Ministry in Gaza, 32 Palestinians have been killed and 1,296 wounded by live fire and rubber bullets since protests near the border fence began on March 30. The rules of engagement permits sniper fire towards anyone who approaches the border fence with the intention to penetrate Israeli territory, with the permitted distance from the fence being 100 meters (328 feet). There is another fence in front of the border fence, and the rules allow shooting only the lower body of anyone who enters the territory between the two fences.