Jerusalem / AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the military on Sunday following uproar over footage of a soldier lethally shooting a Palestinian attacker who had already been shot and subdued.
Netanyahu said the incident in question does not reflect the military’s conduct, and that criticism of the armed forces as a whole over the incident is “outrageous and unacceptable.”
“The soldiers of the IDF, our children, maintain high ethical values while courageously fighting against bloodthirsty murderers under difficult operational conditions,” he said. “We must all support the IDF Chief-of-Staff, the IDF and our soldiers, who safeguard our security.”
The incident in question took place on Thursday in the West Bank city of Hebron after two Palestinians stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier. The military said troops then shot and killed the pair.
In a video released by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, one of the attackers appears to still be alive after the initial shooting. The video, taken by a Palestinian volunteer for the group, shows the wounded Palestinian lying on the ground, slowly moving his head. About a minute later, a soldier raises his rifle and fires. Blood is then seen streaming from the Palestinian’s head.
The military has arrested the soldier and opened an investigation into what it said appeared to be a “grave breach” of its values. The soldier’s family says he feared the wounded militant was reaching for an explosive.
Several right-wing lawmakers have come to the soldier’s defense, accusing detractors of abandoning him before he was given a fair hearing. Hundreds protested outside the prison in which he is being held, and posters have surfaced denouncing those who criticized him, including the defense minister and military chief.
The incident comes amid a six-month wave of Palestinian stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks that has killed 28 Israelis and two Americans. Over the same time, at least 188 Palestinians have died by Israeli fire. Israel says most were attackers, and the rest died in clashes with Israeli security forces.
Israel blames the attacks on incitement by Palestinian leaders amplified by social media. Palestinians say the violence stems from frustration at nearly five decades of Israeli military occupation. The Palestinians have also accused Israel of using excessive force and killing assailants who have already been stopped or wounded.