JERUSALEM (JTA) — A preliminary investigation by the Israeli military found that an army sniper who in December shot a Palestinian man approaching the Gaza border fence acted appropriately.
In the preliminary findings, which were announced Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces said that soldiers heard in a video of the incident cheering the man’s shooting acted inappropriately and will face a disciplinary hearing. Also, the IDF said the soldier who filmed the shooting was not part of the sniper unit serving on the border and would face a disciplinary hearing.
The IDF said the sniper followed protocol, firing one bullet after the Palestinian man ignored warnings and orders to stop. The military also noted that the man was shot in the leg and not the head.
The investigation was launched Monday.
“As for the unapproved filming of an operational incident, distribution of the filmed material and the expressions heard in it, it should be noted that this is not the spirit and the level of restraint expected from IDF soldiers and it will be handled appropriately on a disciplinary level,” read a report on the preliminary investigation, Haaretz reported.
The preliminary results have been turned over over to the Military Advocate General Corps, which will consider criminal charges.
In the video that surfaced over the weekend, which appears to be filmed though a set of binoculars, the soldiers can be heard discussing the shot as the sniper takes aim. The Palestinian man, who was several yards from the border fence and in the video does not appear to be armed, was shot in the head.
Prior to the shot, the sniper’s commander says: “The moment he stops, you drop him. Do you have a bullet in the chamber? Are you [trained] on him?” The shooter replies that there is barbed wire from the security fence blocking his shot. He is then prevented from taking the shot by the presence of a child in the area.
After the man is shot, the person shooting the video is heard saying: “Whoa! What a video! YES! Son of a bitch. What a video! Look they’re running to evacuate him,” he later adds, “What a legendary video.”
Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Liberman, said Tuesday during an appearance in northern Israel hours before the release of the preliminary results, “The sniper deserves a commendation, the photographer a court martial.”
Of the cheering soldiers, he added: “The truth must be clear. The IDF is the most moral army in the world, but when you’re at the front and facing tense situations, sometimes you let out those tensions.”