“I am sorry, I never thought I was shooting at Jews, I would never shoot a Jew,” the soldier reportedly said.
The Israeli victim, Gil Nima’ati, was protesting against the construction of the so-called separation wall near the northern West Bank village of Mis-ha north west of Nablus, along with hundreds of Palestinians and international peace activists.
Another protester, a woman from the US, was also lightly wounded in the shooting which sparked off widespread acrimony and recrimination in Israel because a Jew was shot.
The soldier who pulled the trigger - his identity has not been released - reportedly said he could not recognise the identity of the demonstrators, who were protesting against the construction of the “separation wall” in the northern West Bank.
“ I thought the protesters were all Palestinians and non-Jews.”
"The army deals differently with the Palestinians... soldiers feel threatened by Palestinians and open fire when they feel threatened. This is not the same when soldiers deal with Jews"
Unnamed Israeli soldier
On Tuesday, the Israeli chief of staff and other Israeli officials sought to give the soldier in question the benefit of the doubt, arguing that he would not have opened fire had he known he was shooting at a Jew.
“I am sure, the soldier didn’t know he was shooting at a Jew,” Moshe Ya’alon said in response to a question from a Knesset member.
Shooting Palestinians is "different"
However, when another Knesset member further asked Ya’alon if shooting a Palestinian would have been legitimate under the same circumstances, he sought to dodge the question, arguing that “the army deals differently with the Palestinians.”
“Soldiers feel threatened by Palestinians and open fire when they feel threatened. This is not the same when soldiers deal with Jews.”
A wounded demostrator is helped
by comrades after the shooting
Israeli occupation troops have shot and killed hundreds of Palestinians and a number of international activists in controversial circumstances, prompting human rights organisations to accuse the Israeli army of adopting a “shoot-to-kill” policy in the occupied territories.
Earlier this year, the Israeli Hebrew paper Ha’aretz, published a report showing up to 80% of Palestinians killed by the Israeli army since the outbreak of Al-Aqsa Intifada, were either innocent civilians or people who played no role in the hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians.
However, the wanton killings of Palestinian civilians, journalists and international peace activists by the Israeli occupation army arouse little outrage in Israeli society.
Two days ago, a group of Israeli leftists demonstrated in the same area where Na’amati was wounded.
They carried placards reading “first, they shot the Palestinians, and we were silent... ”