Israeli soldier testifies commanders were ‘complacent’ in ignoring downed assailant he later shot

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — An Israeli soldier charged with manslaughter testified that he believed the commanders at the scene were acting “complacent” in ignoring the downed but still conscious Palestinian attacker he later shot.

Sgt. Elor Azaria, 19, of Ramle, in testimony Sunday in Jaffa Military Court said some of the commanders walked over the assailant, who with another attacker had stabbed Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron.

The other assailant was killed, and Abdel Fattah al-Sharif was injured. Minutes later, while Sharif was lying on the ground, Azaria shot him in the head. The March 24 shooting was captured on video. Azaria was arrested the same day and indicted nearly a month later. Autopsy reports showed that the shots by Azaria killed Sharif.

Azaria testified that during briefings before the March attack, the soldiers had been warned by Shin Bet security service officials that intelligence information indicated a “serious attack” was being planned by Palestinians in Hebron, which had been a flashpoint in a spree of Palestinian attacks against Jewish Israelis since October. When he heard bystanders shouting that the downed Palestinian was moving, and took into consideration that he was wearing a heavy coat on a warm day, Azaria said he took aim and shot Sharif.

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Prior to shooting Sharif, Azaria, a medic in the elite Kfir Brigade, had cared for a stabbed soldier.

Azaria is scheduled to be cross examined on Monday and Tuesday.

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