On Thursday, human rights group B’Tselem released a troubling video that shows a soldier with the Israeli Defense Forces performing an extrajudicial killing of a clearly subdued Palestinian.
While the soldier responsible was detained by his commanding officer, he remains unrepentant for his actions.
"I did the right thing at the right time in order to prevent anything else bad from happening," the soldier said shortly after his arrest, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The Palestinian, identified as 21-year-old Abdel-Battah al-Sharif, attempted to stab an IDF troop along with 20-year-old Ramzi al-Qasrawi. While al-Qasrawi was shot and killed immediately, al-Sharif was only injured.
"He wore a thick coat and therefore I feared that he would stand and detonate an explosive belt," the soldier said.
"After I saw the terrorist moved, I shot him. I just feared that the terrorist would blow himself up."
Speaking to Army Radio on Thursday, the soldier’s attorney stressed that his client was "not guilty," and implied that critics should be grateful for his actions.
"We are too quick to say he was wrong and that he is guilty because of the video…but the soldier is not guilty," the lawyer said. "Let’s not allow his blood to be spilled just yet. Don’t forget who is defending [the public], don’t forget who is defending your children."
The video, released Thursday, has led to outcry by human rights groups.
"The shooting of a wounded and incapacitated person, even if they have been involved in an attack, has absolutely no justification and must be prosecuted as a potential war crime," said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, according to Common Dreams.
Warning: Extremely graphic video
Others have pointed out the calm demeanor of the other soldiers in the video, suggesting that such incidents are commonplace.
"Several Palestinian and Israeli observers were struck by the fact that no one around the soldier who fired the shot seemed to treat the incident as unusual – suggesting that such extrajudicial killings of suspected attackers have now become ‘routine,’ as critics have charged," Robert Mackey wrote for the Intercept.
Similar incidents have occurred in recent months. Last week, autopsies of three Palestinians killed by IDF forces showed that their bodies were shot by dozens of bullets long after they were already dead.
"Israeli forces have a long history of carrying out unlawful killings – including extrajudicial executions – in the Occupied Palestinian Territories with impunity," Luther said.
"While it is encouraging that the soldier in the video has reportedly been suspended and placed under investigation, previous Israeli investigations have failed to hold members of the Israeli forces accountable even when there has been clear evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
"The Israeli authorities must use this opportunity to end the culture of impunity that has made such killings increasingly commonplace," he added.