After execution-style shooting of wounded Palestinian, military prosecutors to press manslaughter charge, not murder.
An Israeli military court has charged a soldier with manslaughter for last month’s fatal shooting of a wounded Palestinian in the West Bank, an incident caught on tape that has caused global outrage.
The soldier, a medic whose name was not released under a gag order, was also charged with inappropriate military conduct on Monday.
The shooting took place last month in Hebron in the occupied West Bank, the focal point of a seven-month wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Initially, the military had said two Palestinians stabbed and wounded a soldier before troops killed the pair.
But a video released later by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem showed one of the attackers still alive and lying on the ground before a soldier calmly raised his rifle, cocked his weapon and shot the alleged assailant in the head.
An autopsy later determined the bullet to the head was the cause of death.
The United Nations said the video of the incident showed all the signs of an extrajudicial killing.
Attorney Eyal Besserglick, who is representing the soldier, told Israel Radio he would aim for a full acquittal.
It was not immediately clear what sentence the soldier faces, if convicted. Such indictments in the military are very rare, said Israeli rights group Yesh Din.
The shooting has enraged the Palestinian community and polarised Israeli society.
Israel’s defence minister, its military chief and other top officials called it contrary to the army’s values. That outcry in turn kicked up a torrent of support for the soldier, who claims he feared the attacker was carrying an explosive belt.
Right-wing politicians have rushed to the soldier’s defence, calling his actions appropriate for a country which they say is reeling from alleged Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings.
More than 200 Palestinians have died by Israeli fire since October last year, including 142 who Israel says were attacking or trying to attack Israelis. The violence has also killed 28 Israelis.