Israel’s defense minister: Hebron shooter was ‘soldier gone bad, not a hero’


(JTA) — Israel’s defense minister has spoken out against lawmakers who are voicing support for the soldier caught on video shooting a prone Palestinian terrorist in the head last week.

On Monday, Moshe Yaalon told the Knesset that the investigation has determined that the fatal shooting on Thursday in Hebron was “a case of a soldier gone bad, not a hero,” the Times of Israel reported. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended the investigation.

READ: Why 3 videos of a West Bank shooting are roiling Israel

The soldier, whose name has not been published, was charged with murder on Friday for shooting a Palestinian wounded after stabbing an Israeli soldier.

The shooting has been hotly debated in Israel, with some critics — including the soldier’s family, right-wing lawmakers and Education Minister Naftali Bennett — claiming the Israel Defense Forces was too quick to condemn the soldier and charge him with murder. Some right-wing Israelis have organized demonstrations and online petitions in support of the soldier, and one Knesset member, Oren Hazan of Likud, said Monday that he was “proud of” the soldier, according to the Times of Israel.

Yaalon said he is asking Knesset members “not to intervene” and accused the soldier’s defenders of “online incitement” and spreading inaccurate information about the case.

At issue is whether the Palestinian still posed a danger when he was shot. A second video appeared to show that the attacker may have still posed a threat, while a third video showed the soldier shaking hands with a far-right activist after the incident.

According to the preliminary IDF investigation, the shooter arrived at the scene several minutes after the attack, after other soldiers had already determined the Palestinian assailant did not have a bomb.

“I regret that the coalition includes a minister who, instead of calling the defense minister before going to the media, called to encourage and support [the soldier],” Yaalon said Monday, according to the Times of Israel.

Bennett, who on Sunday accused the army of bowing to pressure from left-wing human rights groups, said Monday that there is no chance the soldier will get a fair trial, since the army has already deemed him guilty in the media.

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