Video emerges of cheering as Israeli sniper shoots Palestinian
Israel’s military says incident in Gaza Strip will be ‘thoroughly investigated’
Footage has emerged of an Israeli sniper shooting a seemingly unarmed and motionless Palestinian man in the Gaza Strip, followed by exuberant whooping from an onlooker.
Israel’s military said an initial inquiry found the shooting had taken place on 22 December, when one of its soldiers injured the man in his leg during what it called violent riots.
The grainy video comes after almost two weeks of daily protests by Palestinianson the Israel-Gaza border in which the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have fatally shot more than two dozen people and wounded hundreds more, according to Gazan health officials.
The short clip, which was widely shared on social media and shown on Israeli prime-time television, appears to have been filmed through a pair of binoculars. It shows several young men in the distance, metres from the fortified wire perimeter fence, including one in a pink top.
“Do you have a bullet in the barrel?” asks a voice off-camera in Hebrew. A crack is heard and the man falls suddenly. “Wow, what a video. Yes! Son of a whore!” another person says as people are seen running towards the victim to help. “Wow. They hit someone in the head,” says an off-camera voice.
In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, the IDF said its troops were responding to “a violent riot, which included rock hurling and attempts to sabotage the security fence”. The film, less than a minute-and-a-half long, did not show stone-throwing or people damaging infrastructure.
The IDF said it had issued verbal warnings, used riot dispersal methods and fired warning shots. “After none of these were successful, a single bullet was fired towards one of the Palestinians, who is suspected of organising and leading this incident,” it said. “He was hit in the leg and injured.”
It asaid the footage was filmed, without authorisation, by a soldier who was not part of the unit that fired, adding: “[The statements made] do not suit the degree of restraint expected of IDF soldiers and will be dealt by commanders accordingly.”
Ayman Odeh, a politician from Israel’s Arab minority, said: “It is a clip that terrifies the soul, rejoicing over the taking of a life and what appears to be the execution of someone who endangered no one.”
The video was reported extensively in the Israeli press. The Jerusalem Post hadcompared the attack to the case of a military medic – nicknamed the “Hebron shooter” – who was sentenced to 18 months in prison last year for killing an already incapacitated Palestinian attacker.
Israel’s army has been the focus of intense international scrutiny for its lethal response to demonstrations by Gaza’s residents along the frontier.
Soldiers killed at least a dozen Palestinians in December during confrontations in Gaza and the West Bank after Donald Trump announced the unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on 6 December.
On 30 March, the “Great March of Return” kicked off, a planned six-week protest in Gaza culminating every Friday and calling for refugees and their descendants to be allowed back to their family homes in Israel.
Tents have been set up to accommodate women and children. Groups of men closer to the perimeter have burned tyres and thrown stones. The Israeli military has stationed sharpshooters to enforce a no-go zone within Gaza that straddles the fence.
No Israeli has been wounded.
The United Nations and the European Union have called for an independent investigation into the killings, requests that were promptly rejected by Israel’s defence minister.
Israel has accused Gaza’s rulers and protest supporters, Hamas, of using violent riots to camouflage terror. An IDF spokesperson has said anyone approaching the fence could potentially be shot.