Advertisement

Father tells ITV News his son was executed by an Israeli soldier in latest Hebron violence

The man's father has told News at Ten he was executed - and the soldier has been suspended from duty. Photo: ITV News

In a wave of violence that is now nearly six months old, and which has seen 28 Israelis killed, 190 Palestinians have also died – most of them, Israel says, shot dead while trying to attack Israelis.

Warning: This report contains images that some may find distressing:

But the most recent addition to that Palestinian death toll has caused a national debate in Israel like none of the others.

The start of the story is a familiar one.

One young Palestinian man shot dead, and his friend wounded, after they carried out a stabbing attack which injured an Israeli soldier in Hebron.

But in video footage which has been shared online many times since the incident last week, one of the soldier’s comrades is shown cocking his rifle, and shooting the injured Palestinian in the head, as he lay incapacitated on the ground.

People who support the Israeli soldier have described him as a hero. Credit: ITV News

The video is shocking, and it has fuelled claims that the Israeli security forces are killing Palestinian assailants unnecessarily.

Palestinian leaders accuse the Israelis of routine extra-judicial killing, a charge Israel denies.

The soldier in question, meanwhile, has been court-martialled, detained and is now facing manslaughter charges. His family say he shot the Palestinian because he feared he might be carrying a hidden bomb.

But his commanders say that his emotions – after his friend had been injured -- got the better of him, and that he said at the scene that the Palestinian ‘deserved to die’.

His treatment has caused open disagreement within Israel’s government on what is the appropriate way to respond to the stabbing attacks, which have been happening on a near daily basis.

Palestinians have increased attacks against Israelis in recent months. Credit: ITV News

Israel’s Prime Minister at first condemned the soldier’s actions, but rowed back after polling in Israel suggested popular support for the soldier, who’s identity has not been revealed, according to military regulations.

Members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet meanwhile have visited the soldier’s family to express their solidarity with him.

At the soldier’s first court appearance this week, an angry crowd gathered.

‘He is a hero who was trying to protect his friends!’ shouted one man. ‘When the Arab comes to kill, you have to kill him,’ said another.

There have been similar cases in the long and ugly history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the internet and cameras in telephones have given new platforms to old enmities.

But with Israel’s politicians saying one thing and its military leaders saying another, this case could cause more immediate problems for the Israeli army’s chain of command.