Israel's minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman has praised an Israeli sniper who has been filmed targeting an unarmed Palestinian in the besieged Gaza Strip.
“The sniper deserves a medal, the photographer a court martial,” Lieberman said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Lieberman described the Israeli military as “the most moral army in the world,” saying such “tensions” sometimes happen on the frontline.
In the video, which was widely shared on Twitter and WhatsApp messaging application Monday, the troops can be heard talking about the target and how to shoot him, as the sniper trains his rifle on the Palestinian, who does not appear to be armed and is several meters away from Gaza’s fence.
Following Lieberman's remarks, the army revealed that the video was filmed on December 22, 2017 in the area of Kissufim near the Gaza Strip.
In the footage, the commander is heard asking the sniper before he takes the shot, “Do you have a bullet in the chamber? Are you [trained] on him?”
The sniper and the other soldiers are heard rejoicing following the "successful" shooting.
Another soldier is heard saying, “Wow, [he] shot him in the head.”
A fellow accomplice, who is filming the incident, then exclaims, “Of course I filmed it,” in response to a question, before calling it “a legendary video.”
“Yes!” “What a fabulous video,” the others cry with joy. ”He flew in the air.”
The victim is then seen carried away by a group of Palestinians. It is unclear whether he survived the shooting or not, but the Israeli army says he was shot in the leg and injured.
The chief of staff of the Israeli military, Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot, and its top commanders promised to investigate the video “without hesitation.”
The footage has drawn widespread condemnation from Israeli lawmakers and human rights organizations.
Rights bodies have argued that the video represents what is the rule for the Israeli army, rather than the exception.
The Israeli rights group, B’Tselem, said the military issues “illegal orders telling soldiers to shoot people who endanger nobody.”
The incident comes shortly after Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja was shot by Israeli forces along Gaza’s eastern border near Khan Younis despite wearing a bulletproof vest imprinted with the word ‘Press’ on it. He later died of his wounds in hospital.
According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, at least 31 Palestinians, including Murtaja, have been killed by Israeli forces since March 30, when the demonstrations began in the coastal enclave.
On that day, Palestinians marched to the fence separating Gaza from the occupied territories at the start of a six-week protest, dubbed “The Great March of Return,” demanding the right to return for those driven out of their homeland.
The demonstrations turned violent after Israeli forces used tear gas and live fire against the protesters.
Israel has tightened military presence on the Gaza fence, deploying armored vehicles, back-up special forces and snipers. The regime’s forces have permission to open fire on unarmed Gazans.
The Return rallies culminate on May 15, the day Palestinians commemorate Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe) when hundreds of thousands fled or were driven out of their homes in 1948 and Israel was created.
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