IDF Spokesman: Soldier is not being court-martialed in public
Moti Almoz responds to allegations by family of soldier who shot neutralized terrorist, saying 'We're listening to his version and will continue to do so, and it is up to law enforcement authorities and the justice system to determine' what would happen.
In a post on his Facebook page, Almoz stressed that "the soldier is under investigation. We're listening to his version and will continue to do so, and it is up to law enforcement authorities and the justice system to determine" what would happen.
On Saturday night, the soldier's family held a press conference in which his sister turned to the IDF chief and the IDF spokesperson asking "why are you giving him a court-martial in the media? Why are you killing him without a trial?"
She also asserted that the IDF did not let her brother explain his actions. "Why didn't you give him a minute to explain what he was going through, what he was feeling, was he worried the heinous terrorist was planning on blowing himself up, or perhaps draw a weapon?" she wondered.
The IDF spokesman responded to the sister's accusations, saying "All incidents are investigated. We check professionalism, training, activity, weapons, judgment and more. When necessary, the moral aspect is also examined. These incidents are not being examined and investigated so we could 'appear' right, or because of B'Tselem, or because of concern of international pressure. But for the sake of ourselves, our character and values."
Abed al Fatah a-Sharif, along with another Palestinian attacker, stabbed an IDF soldier in Hebron on Thursday. Both were then gunned down by other soldiers.
A video filmed by a B'Tselem volunteer several minutes later shows the wounded a-Sharif lying on the ground motionless as an IDF soldier aims his weapon at him and shoots him in the head.
The IDF suspended and then arrested the soldier on suspicion of murder, and the military’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) has already launched an investigation into the incident.
The soldier’s lawyer said his client saw a-Sharif moving and feared he was going to detonate a bomb, leading him to shoot the neutralized attacker.
A second video from the incident shows the terrorist moving before being shot, while a third video of the evacuation of the wounded soldier reveals dialogue between the rescue team members and the soldiers around them, with an authoritative figure saying, "He probably has an explosive on him, pay attention. Until the bomb squad comes, nobody touches him." The CID is investigating whether the warning was made by an IDF soldier of commander, or by a civilian paramedic.
When questioned by the CID, the soldier claimed that there have been warnings over the past three weeks of a Hamas cell planning a combined terror attack in Hebron that would include both shooting and explosives. The CID said Friday it has yet to check the validity of his claim. His remand has been extended until Tuesday.
The CID is also planning to gather testimony from Palestinians who were at the scene of the attack, after already having spoken to officers and soldiers who were there.
The investigation of the incident has found that one of the junior officers on the scene did check the terrorist for explosives after he was shot down and neutralized.
The soldier who later shot the terrorist to death, however, was not at the scene of the attack when that check was conducted, and was not aware of the fact the officer "cleared" the terrorist of carrying explosives.
The soldier arrived at the scene about two minutes after the attack as reinforcement, and then shot the terrorist who was lying on the ground - of his own accord.
"The procedure for a situation in which there's suspicion the terrorist has an explosive belt on is clear and known, and includes telling the other troops to back away and be careful, something the soldier did not do," an IDF official said on Saturday evening.
Almoz said on Sunday that the investigation into the incident is still ongoing. "On the professional level, we determined the fighters acted properly, and we praised them for the quick neutralization of the terrorists. On the ethical and moral level, we determined after an initial investigation that this was a grave incident. Norms and values are not measured and determined in the comments section, but out in the field, when it's hard and complicated and not everything is clear."
He concluded, saying "We will determine the norms: that this incident is grave, that we will insist that political talk stays out of the IDF. Yes to a fair investigation that has only just begun and that we shouldn't determine its results in advance."