Supporters gather as Israeli soldier appears in court

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters, AFP. Haaretz
Supporters gather as Israeli soldier appears in court

What is happening?

In Israel, demonstrators have gathered in support of a soldier who is accused of deliberately shooting a Palestinian.

The case is being heard at the Bar Lev military base in the western Israeli town of Kiryat Malachi.

Inside, prosecutors asked for the 19-year-old soldier’s detention to be extended until April 7.

Why did the shooting happen?

The Israeli military says two Palestinians stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier in Hebron last Thursday.

The first attacker was shot by troops.

Amateur video has emerged appearing to show an Israeli soldier shooting the already wounded second Palestinian attacker as he lay injured on the ground.

Critics say this was effectively an extra-judicial killing or “execution”.

What has been the response?

There has been uproar over the incident, reflecting what commentators say is the divided opinion in the Israel following six months of violence with the Palestinians.

It has also exposed deep divisions within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing five-party coalition.

Palestinians, meanwhile, say the shooting proves their claims that Israel is guilty of using excessive force and carrying out extrajudicial killings.

What the prosecution says

  • “The inquiry is investigating whether the soldier fired deliberately and without justification,” – Lieutenant Adoram Rigler.
  • Other soldiers and health workers at the scene do not seem concerned for their immediate safety

What the defence says

  • The soldier acted in self-defence. The Palestinian attacker could have a concealed bomb belt under his clothing

The context

A wave of violence has surged through Jerusalem and the West Bank since the beginning of last October.

200 Palestinians have lost their lives along with 28 Israelis, two Americans and one Sudanese national.