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Israel violence: IDF soldier who shot dead unarmed Palestinian has charge dropped from murder to manslaughter

The soldier has claimed he was acting in self-defence believing the man had a suicide belt on

Matt Payton
Thursday 31 March 2016 23:12 BST
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The Israeli soldier is lead in to the Castina Military Court near the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon
The Israeli soldier is lead in to the Castina Military Court near the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon (AP)

Israeli military prosecutors have reduced the charge against a soldier who shot dead an unarmed and severely wounded Palestinian man from murder to manslaughter.

Caught on video, a Palestinian man could be seen bleeding and lying flat on his back when the defendant walked up to him, cocked his weapon and fired point blank at the man's head.

The victim, Abel al-Fatah-al-Sharif, had already been shot and incapacitated during a stabbing attack on an Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldier in Hebron in the West Bank.

The defendant has claimed he was acting in self-defence believing 21-year-old Sharif to have been wearing a suicide belt, The Guardian reports.

At an IDF court hearing, Lieutenant Colonel Edoram Rigler said the prosecution believed they could secure a conviction on the reduced charge of manslaughter.

Other soldiers present at the scene told the hearing the defendant had said before shooting Sharif: "The terrorist was alive and he deserved to die."

The United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, reviewed the Hebron footage and stated: "The images shown carry all the signs of a clear case of an extrajudicial execution."

In response to such attacks, 11 US senators have signed a letter calling on President Barack Obama to investigate alleged Israeli human rights abuses to decide whether military aid to Israel should be cut.

Israeli soldiers stand near the body of Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif, 21, who was shot and killed by a soldier while laying wounded on the ground in Hebron (AP)

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has attacked US critics saying: "Where is the concern for the infringement of the human rights of so many Israelis who were murdered and wounded by criminal murderers?"

According to the Times of Israel, Netanyahu added the senator's letter "should have been directed at those who incite children to cruel acts of terrorism".

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