Israeli soldier faces manslaughter charge

Israeli soldier accused of shooting wounded Palestinian without provocation faces manslaughter charge

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Israeli citizens hold banners reading in Hebrew: "fighters the people are with you" (L) and "the people want the liberation of the soldier" during a demonstration in Tel Aviv on March 31, 2016 to support an Israeli soldier who was suspended.

The Israeli military on Thursday said an Israeli soldier caught on video shooting a wounded Palestinian in the head is being investigated for manslaughter and not murder.

The video shows that the soldier firing shots a Palestinian man who had been lying on the ground without any apparent provocation.

The soldier is yet to be charged, and his lawyer welcomed the prosecutor's move to consider the incident as a "manslaughter" case.

"The significance from our point of view is that, first of all, the prosecution has climbed down," Ilan Katz told army radio.

"I believe that in a short time that suspicion will also be dropped."

Under Israeli law, manslaughter signifies an intentional but not premeditated killing.

Prosecutors sought to extend the remand in military prison of the soldier, who was arrested after the March 24 shooting.

The court ruled that he should instead be confined to barracks without being locked up but after the prosecution objected, the judge ordered another hearing for Friday.

"Due to this, the soldier will remain in detention until the conclusion of tomorrow's deliberations," an army spokeswoman said in response to an Agence France Presse query.

Separately on Thursday, Israel's supreme court ruled the family of the slain Palestinian would be allowed to have a pathologist of their choosing present at his autopsy.

Military top brass have condemned the incident and Israel Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon has vowed that the incident will be treated with the "utmost severity."

Israeli rights group B'Tselem immediately condemned the incident while Palestinians also denounced what it called a war crime.

The United Nations also condemned the Israeli soldier's "gruesome" killing of the wounded Palestinian teen in the West Bank.

"I strongly condemn yesterday's apparent extrajudicial execution of a Palestinian assailant in Hebron in the occupied West Bank," UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement.

"This was a gruesome, immoral and unjust act."

He called on Israeli authorities to "bring to justice" the perpetrator of the incident.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the soldier’s behaviour was not in accordance with the army’s values but Palestinian critics suggested otherwise.

However, far-right politicians have voiced support for the soldier, while members of his family publicly claimed that he was being subjected to a public "lynching" and would not face a fair trial.

Israeli politicians are also engaged in a heated debate over Israel’s response to the current wave of violence. Israeli forces have been accused of using excessive force in many other cases, which they have generally denied.

B'Tselem said on Thursday it had asked the Israeli Army and police to ensure the safety of the cameraman, Imad Abu Shamsiyeh, who lives near the site of the incident, adjacent to Jewish settlers.

"Since the footage was released, Abu Shamsiyeh and his family have already been subjected to threats of murder, stones thrown at their home, and hateful posts on Facebook. Most of this violence was instigated by Hebron settlers."

After Palestine was forcefully occupied by Israel in 1967 many Palestinians had their citizenships revoked.

Only a very small percentage of Palestinians are given residency permits, allowing them to work in certain areas.

More than 70 percent of the United Nation’s member states, representing 80 percent of the world's population, have recognised the state of Palestine, while Israel refuses to do so.

Palestinian authorities have said that the younger generation has no hope for their future living under tight Israeli security measures and a weak economy.