Israeli soldiers and police gather around the body of a Palestinian assailant (front) who was allegedly shot in head by an Israeli soldier as he lay wounded on the ground after injuring an Israeli soldier with a fellow Palestinian attacker (back) in a stabbing assault at the entrance to the heavily guarded Jewish settler enclave of Tal Rumeda in the city centre of the West Bank town of Hebron. Image Credit: AFP

Ramallah: The Israeli soldier who approached and shot a wounded Palestinian in the head at point blank range in the occupied city of Hebron on Thursday was offered hearty congratulations, complete with handshakes and pats on the arm by the far-right activist Baruch Marzel, the leader of the radical Kach movement.

In a new video of the killing of Abdul Fattah Al Sharif, the Israeli soldier, Elor Azraya, is seen smiling alongside Marzel while the body of Al Sharif was being removed from the scene. An Israeli court has imposed a gag order on his identity, which cannot be revealed in the local press.

Marzel, who replaced Rabbi Meir Kahane as leader of the far-right Kach movement which was outlawed in Israel in 1994 after the Kahanist Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians at prayer in Al Ebrahimi Mosque of Hebron, is notorious for having run over and killed a Palestinian girl at Sinjil Junction of Hebron only a few months ago under the pretext that the girl attempted to stab Israelis.

The initial investigation carried out by the soldier’s battalion proved that the soldier falsely claimed to have feared for his life as he believed Al Sharif had a bomb belt on him. The platoon commander said that the victim was checked for explosives before the soldier arrived on the scene in order to ensure that rescuers could operate safely in the area. In the video that showed the execution, several Israeli soldiers are seen standing and moving only a couple of metres away from the wounded and disarmed Palestinian victim.

According to the testimony of another soldier in the unit, Azraya told him that the wounded Palestinian deserved to die before opening fire. The Israeli army announced the soldier’s intention before the video went viral when he told his friend that “the wounded Palestinian deserved to die; he stabbed a friend of mine”.

The Israeli army added that the soldier who heard the comment said that the Israeli colleague attacked by Al Sharif was lightly wounded and would be fine. Without consulting anybody, the soldier loaded a bullet into his rifle and, in front of all his comrades, shot Al Sharif in the head.

The Israeli Operational Affairs Attorney, Lt Col Adoram Riegler, announced that the murder of the disarmed Palestinian constitutes “suspicion of very grave offence and that this shooting might have led to the death of the Palestinian victim”.

Dr Abdul Sattar Qasem, a political analyst in the West Bank, said that Israel is a society based and built on racism. “Israeli hatred of Palestinians and Arabs is a central part of the Israeli culture, curriculum and even the religious teachings. This is a fact which we know for sure and live with,” he said. “Murdering a wounded and disarmed Palestinian is not strange to us at all,” he said.

“The Israelis do not have a problem here at all. They are frank and plain people but the real problem comes within the Palestinians who do not want from the bottom of their hearts to believe that the Israelis hate us and seek to murder each and every Palestinian. To sum this up, we should go to a known Israeli proverb which states ‘A good Palestinian is a dead Palestinian’ to understand the true nature of the conflict with Israel.”

He stressed that the army ethics Israeli officials speak of is mere propaganda aimed only to buy the respect of the international community. “In all cases throughout history, it had been undoubtedly proved that the Israeli soldiers are always innocent and never commit crimes and in the very rare events a solider was indicted with undeniable charges, he is fined or given an ironic simple punishment unworthy even to be mentioned,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Azmi, of the Fatah Movement, said that Al Sharif’s murder is fresh undisputed proof that the Israeli occupation forces execute Palestinians on the field without any kind of fear of being punished for their crimes. “In the total absence of accountability, the Israeli soldiers act with a free hand to kill the Palestinians,” he said. “Al Sharif’s murder is not the first and will not be the last as the crimes of the Israeli occupation forces continue round the clock. We have documented tens of other Israeli crimes which will and should be used at the right time to punish Israel for its crimes against the Palestinians.”