Sergeant A, 19, a medic who shot to death a stabbing terrorist who was lying on the ground in Hebron last Purim, was released by the military court judge, Col. Ronen Shor, to on-base confinement at the Kfir Brigade headquarters, while the prosecution is preparing an indictment for manslaughter against him. He was forbidden to come in contact with the witnesses against him and may not carry a weapon. The prosecution then requested that the judge delay the soldier’s release until Friday at noon to give them time to appeal his decision.
The two central witnesses in the prosecution’s case are the suspect’s battalion and company commanders. The battalion commander is Lt. Col. David Shapira who shot the terrorist who carried out an attack on Merkaz Harav in Hebron in 2008.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday spoke with the soldier’s father, who had been complaining that his son deserved to be treated like a hero, not a criminal, and told him, “I heard what you said, and as the father of a soldier myself I understand your distress. Our soldiers have been standing over the past few months with courage and determination against terror attacks and against murderers who want to kill them. They are expected to make decisions in real time, on the ground, under stress and uncertainty. It’s not a simple reality and I’m sure the investigation considers the entire array of circumstances. I am convinced the investigation will be professional and fair to your son.”
The Army was less than happy about the fact that Netanyahu decided to meet with the father. But the prime minister, sensing where the public winds are blowing — as the vast majority of Israeli Jews and probably all of his own rightwing voters have been vocal in support of the soldier — has been moving away from his own defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, and openly expressing support for the accused soldier, referring to him as someone who “erred.”
In the end, the judge’s decision hinged on whether or not the soldier can be expected to sabotage the investigation against him, which is usually the reason for a remand in cases where the suspect is not a flight risk. The defense attorney questioned the military police investigator whether he believed his client would sabotage the investigation, and the officer answered that “the suspect is not completely cooperative. He is not necessarily trying to sabotage, but he could sabotage.”
Eventually, the officer conceded that “when he is not sure about something he says, I don’t recall.”
The judge shortly thereafter decided to release the soldier to his base. But he stays in jail Thursday night, while the busy bees at the military prosecution work out a reason why he belongs behind bars before the trial. They’re all due in court again Friday at noon.