Haaretz and the Associated Press are reporting that the Israel Defense Forces have charged a soldier with manslaughter after he was filmed shooting a Palestinian stabbing suspect who was lying prone on the ground—the video of which received international attention after it was published by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem in late March. Per Haaretz:
According to the indictment, the soldier opened fire in “violation of the rules of engagement, and without operational justification, while [Abdel Fattah] al-Sharif lay wounded on the ground ... and did not pose immediate and real threat to the defendant, civilians or soldiers in the area.” ...
Two weeks ago the military prosecution came to the conclusion that the accumulated evidence warranted E.’s indictment. The prosecution believes that the things the soldier said to several soldiers and an officer right after the shooting, including, “He deserves to die,” indicate that the motive for shooting the attacker, Sharif, was revenge. The soldier told Military Police investigators that he shot the terrorist because he feared he had a bomb or explosive belt on his person.
The victim, a 21-year-old named Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, had stabbed a soldier standing guard at a military outpost in Hebron, a city 19 miles south of Jerusalem, before being subdued by other soldiers. Located in the West Bank, Hebron is the site of frequent violence between its Palestinian residents and Israeli citizens, the latter of which live in fortified settlements protected by the country’s military. The area is considered ground zero of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
The soldier charged with manslaughter, who cannot be named by outlets or reporters licensed to work in the State of Israel due to a court gag order, was identified last month as Cpl. Elor Azraya by Israelis voicing their support for his actions. According to Robert Mackey of The Intercept, the circulation of the soldier’s name was later flagged by an Israeli human rights activist named Elizabeth Tsurkov:
The Israeli soldier Elor Azraya who was caught on tape executing a Palestinian attacker will be put on trial pic.twitter.com/TaYfMyTpTh— Elizabeth Tsurkov (@Elizrael) March 25, 2016
An indictment such as Azraya’s is fairly rare. “This is the first time in over 10 years that an IDF soldier has been charged with manslaughter for a killing that took place during field operations,” Haaretz noted. The video recorded by B’Tselem, the aforementioned human rights organization, can be seen below: