Second Assailant in Notorious Hebron Shooting Also Executed, Eyewitnesses Say

IDF soldier Elor Azaria was caught on video shooting an incapacitated Palestinian assailant in the head. Palestinian witnesses now say that a second Palestinian was also executed.

Scene from a video released on March 24, 2016 by B'Tselem showing IDF Sgt. Elor Azaria  aiming his weapon before shooting in the head and killing a wounded Palestinian assailant in Hebron.
AFP

Eyewitness testimony to the shooting incident in Hebron about 10 weeks ago, in which Israel Defense Forces soldier Sgt. Elor Azaria shot and killed an incapacitated Palestinian assailant, raises suspicion that the second assailant may also have been executed.

The incident occurred in the Hebron neighborhood of Tel Rumeida, when two Palestinians armed with knives stabbed a soldier.

According to the current version of events, one of the attackers, Ramzi al-Qasrawi, was shot and killed by soldiers on the scene, while the second assailant, Abed al-Fattah Sharif, was shot and seriously wounded, before being subsequently executed by Azaria with a shot to the head.

Azaria is currently on trial in a military court for manslaughter, after video footage of his action was made public and caused a media storm, both in Israel and internationally. Filmed by B'Tselem volunteer Imad Abu-Shamsiyeh, the video begins with al-Qasrawi already lying dead on the ground.

However, it has recently become possible to gather testimony from the residents of Tuel Rumeida, B'Tselem said, following the army's lifting of the strict restrictions imposed on the neighborhood following the incident.

For the first time since the incident, a B'Tselem researcher, Manal al-Ja'abari, has visited the neighborhood and take testimonies from its residents.

According to the testimonies of two of the residents, Noor Abu Aisha and Amani Abu Aisha, al-Qasrawi was also executed with a bullet to the head while lying on the ground incapacitated by a body wound.

The two said that they started observing the goings-on after hearing firing from the street. They claim to have seen both al-Qasrawi and Sharif lying wounded on the ground and posing no danger to the soldiers.

Even before additional troops, who included Azaria, arrived on the scene, they say that they saw a soldier approach al-Qasrawi and fire two bullets at short range into his head or neck.

They subsequently witnessed Azaria's shooting of Sharif, which was also captured on the B'Tselem video.

Amani Abu Aisha told Haaretz that she lives in a building that overlooks the scene of the incident and that she came to the window after hearing four shots.

"I clearly saw al-Qasrawi lying on the ground," she said. "I didn't see any blood. When he tried to lift his leg, a soldier approached him and shot two bullets into the upper part of his body, particularly his neck. Afterwards, there was a lot of blood and he didn't move."

Abu Aisha stressed that she was able to clearly see that al-Qasrawi was alive and lying on the ground after being shot the first time. She also saw Azaria shooting Sharif, she said.

Noor Abu Aisha, Amani's cousin, lives in an adjacent building that also overlooks the scene of the incident. He told Haaretz that he also saw a soldier fire at al-Qasrawi while he was lying on the ground and moving slightly.

He provided additional information about the shooting of Sharif that occurred before Azaria shot him in the head.

According to Noor Abu Aisha, after al-Qasrawi was shot the first time, he saw a soldier chasing Sharif. At a certain point, Sharif stopped and turned toward the soldier with his arms raised. The soldier then shot him and he fell to the ground. That was before he was shot in the head by Azaria.

B'Tselem said both Noor Abu Aisha and Amani Abu Aisha had been informed that it is likely the IDF has full video footage of the incident from military security cameras at the site, which would make it very easy to contradict their evidence if it were not true.

Both witnesses stuck to their versions of the events and said that they would be prepared to testify before any official body.

The IDF denied that al-Qasrawi was shot in the head while laying on the ground. "B'Tselem's claims do not align with finding of the operational investigation and contradict the information that the IDF has regarding the event. The terrorist was fired at in order to remove the threat he posed while attacking the soldiers with a knife," said the IDF spokesperson's unit.