Second downed Palestinian was executed in Hebron, human rights group claims

Marcy Oster

Elior Azaria sitting in Jaffa military court, May 9, 2016. (Flash90)

Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, seen in a Jaffa military court on May 9, 2016, is charged with manslaughter in the killing of a Palestinian assailant. (Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The second Palestinian in a March stabbing attack against Israeli soldiers in Hebron also was executed after being downed with minor injuries, the B’Tselem human rights organization claims.

According to a statement issued Monday by the Israeli group, Ramzi al-Qasrawi was executed with a shot to the head after he was down on the ground and injured from a gunshot to another part of his body following an attempt to stab Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city.

The Israel Defense Forces said al-Qasrawi was already dead when his co-assailant, Abdel Fatal al-Sharif, was shot in the head as he lay on the ground by an Israeli soldier, Sgt. Elor Azaria, who is on trial in a military court for manslaughter.

B’Tselem said it is just now coming forward with the new accusations because the Israeli military only recently lifted severe travel restrictions on the Tel Rumeida area, allowing the group to send a field researcher into the neighborhood to collect testimonies from residents. Two residents — both B’Tselem volunteers, according to the organization — said they saw al-Qasrawi executed.

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The witnesses captured parts of the incident with cameras issued to them by the organization, but did not film the moment when they claim al-Qasrawi was executed.

The neighborhood is under IDF surveillance cameras, so any execution would have been captured on video. B’Tselem said in its statement that it has no access to the footage, “but it is available to the military, which for the most part takes pains not to make it public.”

The IDF said it would investigate the claims.

Azaria, 19, has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter charges. His attorneys told the Jaffa Military Court that their client acted in self-defense, fearing an immediate threat to himself and other soldiers at the scene.

Azaria’s case has sent shock waves through Israeli society. Some on the political right have called for solidarity with the soldier and others, including military leaders, have suggested that such calls reflect a national crisis of ethics.

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