Netanyahu urges understanding for soldier filmed shooting attacker

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reminded a divided public Sunday that a soldier, who faces charges after shooting a Palestinian knife attacker who no longer posed a threat, was working under difficult circumstances.

He spoke after family members slammed the media of having launched a "field trial" against the soldier.

"The soldiers of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), our children, maintain high ethical values while courageously fighting against bloodthirsty murderers under difficult operational conditions," Netanyahu told his cabinet.

"I am certain that in all cases, as in the current one, the inquiry takes into account all conditions," he said.

On Thursday, Netanyahu had said that the soldier's actions "do not represent IDF values."

"The IDF expects its soldiers to act calmly and according to the rules of engagement," he said, shortly after footage of the incident was published, sparking outcry in Israel and the Palestinian areas. 

On Friday, the soldier was brought handcuffed before a military court in south Tel Aviv on suspicion of murder.

The video, filmed by a Palestinian volunteer for the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, shows the soldier suddenly fire his rifle at an injured knife attacker lying on the road.

After the shot is heard, the Palestinian's head jolts and he has what seems to be a fresh head wound, with blood slowly streaming down the sloped road where he lies.

The Palestinian, along with a partner, had stabbed and injured another soldier guarding a checkpoint.

Right-wing nationalist members of Netanyahu's government have rallied behind the soldier and some 35,000 Israelis have signed a petition, saying the soldier should be given a "medal rather than handcuffs."

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, of the pro-settler Jewish Home party, wrote on his Facebook page Sunday: "The soldier is not a murderer. Have we lost our minds?"  

"The minimum we can do is to wait for a thorough and fair investigation before we seal someone’s fate." 

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon on Thursday called the shooting an "utter breach of IDF values and of our code of ethics in combat."

The Palestinian Authority has accused Israel of a "war crime."

Last update: Sun, 27/03/2016 - 18:19
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