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Thousands of Israelis back soldier who threatened Hebron teens

April 30, 2014 10:27 P.M. (Updated: May 2, 2014 7:47 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- An Israeli soldier, who was suspended after being shown in a video clip cocking his gun and aiming at Palestinian teenagers, has received massive support online, media reported Wednesday.

Only hours after a Facebook page was created Tuesday in support of the elite Nahal infantry unit soldier identified only as David, it had clinched almost 60,000 likes.

Breaking the Silence, a pacifist group of former Israeli soldiers, denounced that kind of support and said the "situation depicted in the video is far from unusual."

A video posted on YouTube shows the young soldier raising his weapon after a verbal exchange with one of the teenagers, cocking it and aiming it at him.

He then threatens to put a "bullet in the head" of a third man filming the event unless he stops.

Breaking the Silence said "the Nahal soldier's reaction is hardly extreme when compared with the day-to-day conduct of the IDF (Israeli army) in the (Palestinian) occupied territories".

Far-right Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett posted a statement of support for the soldier on his Facebook page, writing: "He was alone, surrounded by several violent and aggressive Arabs. He didn't shoot and defended himself and his surroundings adequately."

Hebron is a major site of tensions as a result of the presence of 500 Jewish settlers and thousands of Israeli soldiers, meaning that local Palestinian residents have to pass through checkpoints in order to move between neighborhoods in the Old City.

Some areas, like Shuhada Street, are almost completely shut to Palestinians while open to Jews, and thousands of Palestinians have left as a result of harassment and limitations imposed by Israeli authorities.

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