JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military on Thursday said prosecutors have announced their intention to file a manslaughter charge against a soldier who was caught on video shooting a wounded Palestinian attacker in the head.
The soldier appeared in a military court, where his detention was extended until Monday. The military said that prosecutors informed the court that they plan on charging the soldier with manslaughter, but are still working out some technical details before formally indicting him.
The shooting took place last month in Hebron, a West Bank city that has been a focal point of a seven-month wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
At the time, the military said two Palestinians stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier before troops shot and killed the pair.
But in a video later released by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, one of the attackers was shown still alive after the initial shooting. The video, taken by a Palestinian volunteer for the group, shows the wounded attacker lying on the ground, slowly moving his head before a soldier raises his rifle and fires. Blood is then seen streaming from the Palestinian's head. An autopsy determined the bullet to the head was the cause of death.
The incident has triggered uproar in Israel, with the country's defense minister, military officials and many Israelis calling it contrary to the army's values. That has led to widespread support for the soldier, with many calling his actions appropriate for a country reeling from months of Palestinian attacks.
During that time, 28 Israelis and two Americans have been killed in Palestinian attacks, while at least 189 Palestinians have been killed. Israel says most of the dead were attackers, with the rest killed in clashes with troops.
In the latest violence, the military said a Palestinian man attacked a soldier with an ax in the West Bank before he was shot and killed. It said the incident occurred near al-Aroub, a village in the southern West Bank. The army said the soldier was lightly wounded.
The violence erupted last fall over tensions at a sacred hilltop site in Jerusalem's Old City revered by both Jews and Muslims. An increase in visits to the site by nationalist Jews during the Jewish New Year, coupled with restrictions on Muslim visits, sparked rumors among Palestinians that Israel was planning to disrupt a longstanding status quo. Israel denied the accusations, but clashes erupted at the site and quickly spread across Israel and into the West Bank.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that "extremist elements" are attempting to rekindle the violence ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Speaking at a pre-Passover ceremony, Netanyahu said Israel had sent messages to Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and "the entire Arab world" in attempt to calm tensions. He said "inciters" are spreading lies about Israel's policy at the site, and that Israel would increase security forces and use "additional defensive measures" to respond to possible riots.