Autopsy Reveals Hebron Assailant Killed by Head Shot, Coroners Say

Haaretz has learned that pathologists – including Palestinian doctor who oversaw procedure – are in agreement that though Abed Fattah al-Sharif was also shot in his arm, shoulder, chest and lower body, none of those wounds were lethal.

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Sgt. E, suspected of manslaughter after shooting wounded Palestinian in Hebron, in an IDF court. April 3, 2016.
Sgt. E, suspected of manslaughter after shooting wounded Palestinian in Hebron, in an IDF court. April 3, 2016. Credit: David Bachar

An autopsy conducted Sunday revealed that Abed Fattah al-Sharif, the Palestinian shot dead in Hebron last week after stabbing an Israeli soldier, died as the result of a head shot, a Palestinian pathologist present at the autopsy said.

Though Israeli medical sources would neither confirm nor deny the Palestinian pathologists findings, Haaretz has learned that during the autopsy the doctors agreed on the pathological findings, which show the direct cause of the assailant's death was from a bullet fired by a soldier at close range.

The results dispel claims that al-Sharif was already dead when the Israeli soldier shot him, and could likely lead to the soldier being indicted for manslaughter.

Israeli soldiers stand near the body of a Palestinian who was shot and killed by a soldier while laying wounded on the ground after a stabbing attack, Hebron, West Bank, March 24, 2016.Credit: AP

Doctor Ryan Alali, director of pathology at the forensic institute at An Najah University in Nablus, told the Al Quds newspaper in Jeruslaem that he has agreed with the Israeli team that the bullet that brought about the Palestinian's death was a bullet shot to his head.

Sharif was wounded by several bullets in his arm, shoulder and lower body. He also sustained a bullet wound to the chest, but none of those wounds were lethal. According to the doctor, the bullet that struck him in the head smashed his skull and created a huge hole, which reinforces the contention that he was killed as a result of this blow.

Alali told Haaretz that the blow to the chest was to the right lung, but that the type of wound does not indicate that the victim died immediately.

"The heart and main arteries were complete and therefore it is clear that the bullet to the head caused death because his entire skull was smashed," Alali said.

The soldier's attorneys said they will not "respond to leaks of findings from the 'Palestinian Prisoner Club' and will await the publication of the official results of the autopsy." However, they did add that any finding that suggests that Sharif was killed by the soldier only "strengthens his version that he felt an imminent and real threat to his life and to the lives of the soldiers at the scene of the attack."

The military prosecution believes that the evidence so far collected regarding the soldier who shot a wounded Palestinian assailant in Hebron is strong enough to support an indictment.

The prosecution will be able decide what charges are to be brought against the soldier after receiving the report of the autopsy. The results indicate that the soldier will likely be indicted for manslaughter.

The military court of appeals at the Israel Defense Forces' headquarters in Tel Aviv heard the prosecution’s appeal on Friday of the decision to release the soldier, whose identity is under gag order and is being referred to as Sergeant E., to open arrest at his base. It was ultimately decided, with the consent of the military prosecutors and the soldier’s defense team, to keep him at the Nahshonim base where his division is headquartered. Another hearing on the matter is scheduled for Tuesday.

In response to the autopsy the Palestinian Prisoners' club said the "results prove that what the entire world saw and knows – the gunshot was fired deliberately, with the intent to kill."

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