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Israeli officer admits he ordered WBank shooting

Published by onlines on August 2, 2008

Says it was a joke but his subordinate took it seriously

An Israeli army commander confessed to ordering a soldier to shoot a blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian with a rubber-coated bullet, Israeli television news channel 10 reported on Thursday.

The officer, named as Lieutenant Colonel Omri, told investigators: “I said jokingly to the soldier ‘come on, shoot him with a rubber-coated bullet’,” the private station said, citing a military report into the incident.

The soldier told the inquiry he believed he was being given an order because the comments came from a superior officer, the channel added, quoting the same source.

The shooting was caught on video, and footage showing the demonstrator being held by the arm by an officer while the soldier appeared to aim at his leg was released on July 27 by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

Omri initially said he did not give the order to fire, and that he wanted the soldier to rattle his gun to scare the detainee, identified as Ashraf Abu Rahma, 27.

“We are not confirming this information,” a spokesman for the Israeli army told AFP on Thursday.

The army launched an inquiry after the video was shown on Palestinian television and Omri was suspended on Tuesday for 10 days after failing a lie-detection test.

Rahma was wounded in the July 7 incident in Nilin, an occupied West Bank village where regular protests are staged against Israel’s separation barrier. (AFP)

Israel says the barrier is needed to stop potential attackers from infiltrating Israel and Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but Palestinians say it is a land grab aimed at undermining the viability of a promised state.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice issued a non-binding resolution calling for parts of the barrier inside the West Bank to be torn down and for a halt to construction there. Israel has ignored the ruling.

The head of the army’s northern command, Major General Gadi Eisenkot, called the shooting incident “very serious” and a “moral error” which breached the Israeli army’s ethical code.

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