Palestinian Indicted With Israeli Soldier's Murder, Tells Court He 'Didn't Mean to Kill'

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Staff Sgt. Amit Ben Ygal.
Staff Sgt. Amit Ben Ygal.Credit: Amit Ben Ygal's Facebook account

A Palestinian man was charged on Thursday with murder in the case of an Israeli soldier who died after a brick was dropped on his head during a raid in the West Bank town of Ya'bad last month.

The defendant, Nizmi Abu Bakr, cried at the Salem military court as charges against him were read, saying: “I didn’t murder anyone on purpose… This indictment is wrong. I told Shin Bet interrogators everything, how could they write such a thing?”

According to the indictment, 49-year-old Abu Bakr, a resident of Ya'bad, threw a brick weighing 9-11 kilograms (20-24 lbs) at 21-year-old Staff Sgt. Amit Ben Ygal, causing his death. His family was informed on Thursday that the military plans to demolish their home because of the incident. 

The suspect in the soldier's killing, Nazmi Abu Baker, from the West Bank village of Ya'bad. Credit: Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson

Prosecutors say the indictment is based mostly on Abu Bakr’s confession, but his attorneys claim the charge sheet does not fit his account of the incident which he told investigators. According to transcripts of his interrogation published by Kan public broadcaster last week, Abu Bakr said he “only meant to inflict wounds. I made a mistake, it was foolish of me,” and reiterated he “didn’t mean” to kill the soldier.

During the May 12 incident, the indictment says, Abu Bakr was in his apartment on the top floor of the three-story building he lives in with his extended family. At around 4:30 A.M., he heard shouts from a neighbor’s house and went up to the roof, where he could see Israeli forces making arrests.

The indictment alleges that once he saw the soldiers walking past his house he decided to take a brick and drop it on the soldiers, hitting 21-year-old Ben Ygal. Two weeks ago, the Shin Bet announced it had arrested Abu Bakr.

“Demolishing an innocent family’s home just because of familial proximity to the perpetrator goes against a cornerstone of Israeli and international law, by which a person is not punished for actions that they did not commit,” Jessica Montell, executive director of the Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual said after the family was notified of plans to destroy their home, adding that the military has previously cast doubt on the effectiveness of the demolitions. 

Abu Bakr was also charged with obstruction of justice, as he allegedly pretended to be asleep following the incident. The indictment says that after the Israeli forces had left the village, he hid the brick in a bush.

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