Military Police probe finds double amputee wasn't killed by IDF snipers
Investigation reveals sniper fire was halted at least an hour before Palestinians say Ibrahim Abu Thuraya was hurt during Gaza riot; one of two Maglan fighters questioned under caution tells investigators, 'There's no chance we killed him'; intelligence investigation finds protestor bid farewell to his family as a 'shahid' the night before his death.
Two snipers from the Maglan special forces unit were questioned under caution by the Military Police Investigations Division in recent weeks on suspicion of causing Abu Thuraya's death. One of the snipers told his investigators, "There's no chance we killed him. We have been trained to detect injuries."
The two fighters' commanders and Gaza Division commanders offered the soldiers their full support in light of the findings of the operational investigation, which were submitted to Southern Command chief Major-General Eyal Zamir.
According to the findings, Ynet had learned, the sniper fire that day was halted at least one hour before the Palestinians claim Abu Thuraya was shot and hit. The snipers fired at key instigators only three times that day.
The investigation revealed that about 1,000 Palestinians had taken part in the violent riot near the fence that day. Some threw stones at the fence and hurled Molotov cocktails as well as a pipe bomb, which exploded without causing any injuries.
A Gaza Division investigation revealed that Abu Thuraya, who often participated in the fence protests, visited his family members on the night before the incident and apologized that he had to bid farewell to them as a "shahid" (martyr).
Gaza Division officials have also detected the growing participation of many disabled Palestinians, including people in wheelchairs, in these protests. The fighters have been instructed to avoid hitting the disabled protests, who are usually positioned in the centers of friction, so as not to provide Hamas with the image it is hoping to gain.
The bottom line of the military investigation is that no fault was found in the forces' conduct during that incident. One of the assumptions, which hasn’t been proved as part of the investigation, is that Abu Thuraya died from a ricochet of a certain crowd dispersal mean used by the forces to drive the rioters away.
The two Maglan unit snipers were questioned under caution by the Military Police following Palestinian claims that an autopsy found Abu Thuraya had been struck in the head by a bullet while attending the weekly fence protest.
The two fighters and their commanders argued that no shots had been fired at the disabled protestor. "We are trained to accurately hit our targets," one of the snipers told his investigators. "And in any event, the instruction is to shoot at the lower part of a key instigator's body. There's no chance we killed him. We are trained to detect injuries after every shooting, and when that happens we see people gather around the wounded person. In this case, it didn't happen."
An initial IDF investigation into the incident had concluded that no live fire had been aimed at Abu Thuraya and that it was impossible to determine the cause of his death.
"No live fire was aimed at Abu Thuraya. It is impossible to determine whether Abu Thuraya was injured as a result of riot dispersal means, or what caused his death," part of the military statement said.
It added that protesters hurled explosive devices and rocks and rolled burning tires "with the aim of harming soldiers and destroying security infrastructure" and that non-lethal riot dispersal means were mainly used, although a few live rounds fired under supervision were aimed "towards main instigators."