The Israeli military on Tuesday pledged disciplinary action after a leaked video showed a sniper shooting a Palestinian man across the Gaza border – to cheers from his fellow soldiers, according to reports.
The video, filmed on December 22 near the Kisufim border crossing, “shows a small portion” of the military’s handling of what the Israel Defense Forces described as a “violent protest that included rock hurling and attempts to sabotage the fence.”
According to the IDF’s initial findings, the sniper fire — recorded through a scope – was used as a last resort after soldiers’ non-lethal measures to disperse crowds failed, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The 81-second clip appeared Monday on social media after a surge in Palestinian protests at the Gaza border in which 30 demonstrators have been killed by the IDF.
Israeli officials said the incident took place amid Palestinian unrest at President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
The IDF sharpshooter fired once at the Palestinian, wounding him in the leg, after warnings shots and orders to disperse were ignored, according to the statement.
“As for the unauthorized filming of an operational event, the distribution of the filmed material and the statements made there, it should be noted that these do not suit the degree of restraint expected of IDF soldiers and will be dealt with by commanders accordingly,” the statement said.
It was unclear how many soldiers might be disciplined and what measures would be taken.
In the video, a man can be heard asking, “Do you have a bullet in the barrel?” He then adds, “Is it on him?” the Israeli Haaretz reported.
Another man is then heard saying, “I can’t see because of the wire” and noted that “there’s a little boy there.”
The sniper then shoots amid cheers in the background.
“Wow, what a video! Yes!” a man shouts in Hebrew, adding: “Son of a bitch! What a video, here, run and get him out of there. Of course I filmed it,” according to Haaretz.
Later, someone else is heard saying: “Wow! Someone was hit in the head,” “what a legendary video,” “he flew in the air,” and “get out, you sons of bitches.”
According to IDF protocol, all shootings at protests require approval from senior commanders in the field.
On Tuesday, two right-wing Israeli lawmkers defended the shooting.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan downplayed the actions of the shooter and others around him.
“We are going overboard with this video,” said Erdan, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, Agence France-Presse reported.
“It doesn’t show gunfire at everyone, but at a terrorist who approaches the barrier in an unauthorized zone coming from an area controlled by Hamas terrorists,” he told public radio.
“I am convinced that everything is OK,” added Erdan, who described a “human reaction” by troops confronted with a “tense situation.”
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Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the far-right Jewish Home party also justified the soldiers’ behavior, AFP reported.
“Judging soldiers because they are not expressing themselves elegantly while they are defending our borders is not serious,” Bennett told army radio.
Meanwhile, Israeli-Arab MP Ayman Odeh said the video “horrifies the mind,” the BBC reported.
“Calls of joy at taking a life and what appears to be the execution of someone who did not threaten anyone,” he added.
American-born Likud lawmaker Yehuda Glick said the video was “very hard to watch,” adding that the atmosphere was “troubling and disappointing.”
Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said it had little faith in the IDF probe.
“Israeli policymakers & military officials’ professed shock & promise to investigate are lip service, their ‘thorough investigation’ will be whitewashing yet again,” it tweeted. “They are the ones supporting manifestly illegal commands ordering soldiers to shoot people who pose no threat.”