Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman has praised the Israeli soldiers who filmed themselves shooting at an apparently unarmed Palestinian protester behind the border fence to Gaza, saying the sniper “deserved a medal”.
The video in which the apparent sniper and his colleagues are heard cheering after hitting the man behind the fence emerged on Monday and has been widely shared, sparking a public outcry. The Israeli Defence Force since confirmed the authenticity of the footage, which it says was filmed on December 22, and has pledged disciplinary action over its leaking. The shooting itself, however, has been deemed exemplary.
According to the Israeli army the video was filmed as protesters gathered at the Gaza fence over US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Warning: This video contains disturbing images
In a statement by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), chief negotiator Dr Saeb Erekat called the video “a reflection of the cruel mentality of Israel’s military occupation and the drive of its systematic shoot-to-kill policy against the Palestinian civilians”.
Several Israeli ministers have lined up to defend the soldiers in a number of radio interviews on Tuesday, saying the exposure that the video has received is excessive, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
According to the IDF, the Palestinian man was deemed to have been organising a “riot, which included rock hurling and attempts to sabotage the security fence”. It added the man had been hit in the leg.
‘No innocent people in Gaza’
Liberman said last week in a radio interview that “there are no innocents in Gaza” and that everyone living in the occupied territory had some connection to Hamas.
The comment followed after Israeli soldiers opened fire on angry Palestinian protesters at the border fence on Friday, killing nine and wounding hundreds more. Dozens of protesters have been killed by Israeli soldiers since the start of the protests on March 30. The IDF has defended its actions, saying protesters had "attempted to damage and cross the security fence" and "attempted to hurl explosive devices".
The PLO took to Twitter on Sunday, accusing Liberman of continuing to “incite hatred, racism, and discrimination against the people of Palestine.”