An Israeli Court in Tel Aviv issued a ruling, on Thursday, convicting the Israeli soldier who shot a bound and blindfolded Palestinian in Ni’lin village near Ramallah, with unbecoming behavior and misusing his weapon.The officer who ordered the shooting was also convicted of unbecoming behavior and attempted threat.
The incident took place two years ago as resident Ashraf Abu Rahma was shot at close range.
Israeli Lt. Col. Omri Burberg was filmed while holding Abu Rahma and giving an order to Staff Sgt. Leonardo Korea to fire a rubber-coated bullet at the leg of Abu Rahma, 27.
The attack took place on July 7, 2008. The soldiers accused Abu Rahma of “disrupting the peace” before they bound and blindfolded him.
Israel initially did not want to charge the soldier with “attempted threat”, and only accused Leonardo of misusing his gun and unbecoming behavior.
In an interview with Israeli TV Channel 2, the soldier clearly stated that he opened fire at the bound and blindfolded Palestinian although he knew it was illegal to do so.
He also said that “when you serve in the West Bank, you see things that pushes you to carry out acts that, you will be glad, were not filmed”.
“When such acts surface”, Burberg added, “then an investigation is needed, and things like this do happen”.
After the relatively mild charges were filed against the soldier, a number of civil rights groups filed a petition to the High Court of Justice and demanded more serious charges.
In response, Israeli Military Advocate General Avichai Mandelbilt, decided to add attempted threat and behavior unbecoming for a commander in the army against Burberg , and also added the illegal use of weapons to the charges filed against Korea, Israeli daily Haaretz, reported.
The attack, although filmed and clearly proves intention to harm the bound Palestinian, and the illegal behavior of the soldiers apparently was not sufficient enough to file criminal charges against the soldiers.
Haaretz reported that Burberg knew Abu Rahma as he is active in nonviolent resistance against the wall and settlements.
Before shooting Abu Rahma, the soldier reportedly told him in Hebrew “Now you will stop participating in protests against the Israeli Army”, but Abu Rahma responded in Arabic as he did not understand what the soldier said.
Haaretz also reported that the soldier believed that Abu Rahma was lying, and told his fellow officer, Korea, “Should we take him aside, and shoot him with a rubber-coated bullet”, while officer Korea responded “I have no problem with that”.
It is worth mentioning that the Israeli army kidnapped the father of the girl who filmed the soldiers shooting the bound Palestinians.
The young woman, Salaam Kanaan, 17, said that she could not believe what was happening, and panicked when the shot was fired.
She added that this was the first time she held a camera and that she wanted to film the Israeli attacks especially since the media was not allowed into the village.
Kanaan stated that Ashraf was bound and blindfolded for two hours before the soldiers decided to shoot him.
The army claimed that the arrest of the father is not connected to the incident and that he was detained for his role in the protests against the wall and settlement.