An Israeli soldier who was caught on camera fatally shooting a wounded Palestinian in the West Bank city of Hebron was put under “open arrest” at a military base Friday. The soldier, whose name has not been revealed, could face charges of manslaughter — instead of a murder charge that the prosecution initially sought — when the hearing resumes Tuesday.
Under the terms of his release, the solider will not be confined to a cell so long as he does not leave the military base or carry any weapons.
The decision by the Israeli military tribunal to move him from prison to the military base came after the soldier's attorney, Eyal Baserglick, reportedly argued that his client his client “hadn’t meant to murder or kill, he intended to save [lives].”
Prior to that, on Thursday, a military judge ruled that only a manslaughter charge, which signifies an intentional but not premeditated killing, against the soldier would be reviewed, saying that the evidence against the soldier was “inconclusive.”
The video, shot last week by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, shows a wounded Palestinian man — identified as 21-year-old Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, who was one of the two people accused of stabbing an Israeli soldier in Hebron — lying on the ground, surrounded by Israeli soldiers. A soldier then walks up to the prone Palestinian and shoots him in the head.
“The images shown carry all the signs of a clear case of an extrajudicial execution,” Christof Heyns, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said in a statement released Wednesday. “There does not appear to be any provocation on the side of the gravely wounded man. ... It is furthermore troublesome that this was done to no apparent alarm to the other soldiers who were nearby.”
The incident was also condemned by the Israeli military, which called it a “grave breach of IDF [Israel Defense Forces] values.”
However, even as human rights groups urge Israel to hold the soldier accountable for his actions, the issue has become a divisive one within the country. A poll conducted by Israel’s Channel 2 found that 57 percent of those surveyed opposed the soldier’s arrest and 42 percent described his actions as “responsible.” An online petition calling for the soldier to be given a “merit citation” had received over 58,000 signatures by Saturday.
While the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the shooting in a statement issued last week, Naftali Bennett from the right-wing Jewish Home Party, and Avigdor Lieberman, head of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu, jumped to the soldier’s defense.
“A soldier that kills a terrorist obviously should not be charged with murder and also does not need to be charged with manslaughter,” Lieberman reportedly said.