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Israeli soldier behind Hebron 'execution' released to open detention

April 1, 2016 8:38 P.M. (Updated: April 3, 2016 7:22 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM: (Ma’an) -- An Israeli soldier to be tried on charges of manslaughter for shooting dead a wounded Palestinian in Hebron last week will be released to open detention on a military base, an Israeli army spokesperson said.

The military court on Friday upheld their decision to release the soldier to a five-day open detention, Israeli media reported, denying the prosecution's appeal to extend the soldier’s remand for another week.

The soldier was reportedly allowed to have visits by his immediate family.

Defense attorneys are to continue reviewing evidence during further deliberations at the military appeals court to take place this coming Tuesday, the spokesperson added.

Israeli news outlet Ynet reported that the military prosecutor disputed the decision to release the Israeli soldier, and that the soldier was not cooperating with the investigation.

"The soldier gives evasive answers whenever confronted with the questions that arise from his version of events. The soldier's changing version raises serious doubts about the credibility of the defense's claims, to put it mildly," Ynet quoted Chief military prosecutor Col. Sharon Zagagi-Pinhas as saying.

Zagagi-Pinhas said that the soldier now refuses to conduct a reconstruction of events and be confronted by witnesses who testified against him, which the soldier had initially agreed to do.

The Israeli soldier’s release follows Thursday’s announcement that he would be tried on charges of manslaughter rather than murder as had been widely expected, for the incident the UN has branded as an “extrajudicial execution.”

The perceived downgrade in charges comes as the prosecution and rights groups point to footage of the killing as evidence the wounded Palestinian did not pose any threat, despite the soldier’s claims that he was acting in self defense.

Footage released by rights group B’Tselem captured the moment the Israeli soldier stepped forward and shot 21-year-old Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif in the head, as he was lying on the ground severely wounded. He had earlier been gunned down after allegedly stabbing an Israeli soldier.

"The video has nuances and it speaks for itself. The soldier's comments during the incident indicate on his state of mind and his motive,” Zagagi-Pinhas went on the say.

In the video, Israeli soldiers can be heard saying “this dog is still alive” in Hebrew, and the soldier who shot al-Sharif could also be heard saying, “this terrorist deserves to die.”

In an another moment prior to the shooting an Israeli soldier is seen tying his shoelace near the wounded al-Sharif while Israeli settlers walk nearby, apparently belying the claim that he was perceived as a threat at the time he was killed.

More than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since October, many of them while allegedly carrying out or attempting to carry out small-scale attacks against Israeli soldiers. Almost 30 Israelis have been killed during the same time period.

Earlier this year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon condemned the wave of attacks, but said that Israeli security measures were failing to "address the profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians -- especially young people."

He added: "As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism."
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