A video has surfaced on Monday purportedly showing an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) sniper shooting a Palestinian man standing near the border fence. The Palestinian man fell to the ground after getting hit and soldiers are heard cheering in the background at this.
One yells, “Son of a bitch! What a legendary film! I haven’t seen this kind of thing for a long time.”
The footage which circulated on social media shows the Gaza border fence and a field behind it. The shooter is heard discussing the shot with another soldier nearby.
“When he stops, you take him down,” the soldier says. “Are you on him?”
“I can’t fire because of the barbed wire,” the sniper responds a short time later.
“Take out the one in the pink,” the other soldier says after a few moments.
As the gun goes off, IDF soldiers cheer and the Palestinian man falls. A group of Palestinians can be seen in the video running to the fallen man’s side and removing him from the field.
In a response to the video, the IDF said in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon that the video was filmed on Friday, December 22, 2017, during what they termed “a violent riot.” At the time, protests were held in Gaza and the West Bank following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The IDF statement said:
The video depicts a short part of the response to a violent riot, which included rock hurling and attempts to sabotage the security fence, and lasted about two hours. During the riot, means were taken in order to disperse it, including verbal warnings and calls to halt, using riot dispersal means and firing warning shots into the air.
After none of these was successful, a single bullet was fired towards one of the Palestinians who is suspected of organizing and leading this incident, while he was a few meters from the fence. He was hit in the leg and injured. The video was not filmed from the position of the shooting and was filmed by a soldier who was not part of the unit of the soldiers who fired.
.Israeli Defence Minister Israeli Avigdor Liberman, speaking Tuesday afternoon, defended the shooting, saying:
The sniper deserves a medal, and the photographer deserves a demotion. The IDF is the most moral army in the world, but there can be no doubt when you are at the front and under a lot of tension and there is a need to unwind your nerves, there are emotions and one can understand it.
But the shooting carried out by the IDF sniper provoked outrage and received massive condemnation.
Ahmad Tibi, a politician from the Joint Arab List party in Israel’s Knesset, said on Facebook:
The crime and the evidence. The hunting of humans and the gratification the sniper derives from the ruthless murder of an unarmed Palestinian civilian in Gaza. A video recorded by a soldier of the Israeli occupation forces who stood next to the sniper. Difficult to watch.
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said:
This documented case of extrajudicial killing demands the world to end Israel’s impunity and highlights a further urgency for the International Criminal Court to open an immediate investigation into the war crimes committed by the Israeli occupying power.
Human rights organizations slammed the Israeli military, claiming the video shows the rule and not the exception. But Israel’s Minister of Education and leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennett, defended the soldier’s actions.
Bennett said on Israel Army Radio Tuesday morning:
Seriously do you know what they were doing three minutes before, two minutes before?
Maybe they lost a friend a day before. Do you know what the context of the situation was? I stand behind IDF soldiers. They are guarding us, and we should get back to that a basic understanding which somehow got lost.
Watch the very troubling video HERE.