A plea deal offered the soldier three months of military work in the fatal shooting of a Palestinian.
An Israeli military court upheld a contentious plea bargain that avoids jail time for a soldier who killed a Palestinian and seriously injured another in the occupied West Bank.
The plea deal offered the soldier – who remains unidentified – three months of military service for admitting to killing 22-year-old Ahmad Manasra and shooting at Alaa Ghayadah at a crossroads near the West Bank city of Bethlehem in March 2019 .
The soldier claimed he mistook the victims for assailants and said he was instructed by commanders to be on high alert following a series of Palestinian attacks against Israelis in the surroundings.
Palestinians and Israeli rights groups accused the military court of excessive leniency, and the deal was sharply criticized by the families of the victims.
Critics say potentially criminal shootings of Palestinians rarely result in convictions or even indictments, and that the military justice system is biased in favor of soldiers. Charges of Israeli soldiers are very rare.
In the incident on March 20, 2019, Ghayadah pulled out of the road following a traffic conflict.
When he got out of his car, the accused soldier, who was stationed in a nearby guard tower, shot him dead, according to testimony gathered by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.
Manasra and three others were on their way home from a wedding near Bethlehem when they saw Ghayadah’s wife on the side of the road asking for help.
Manasra’s companions took Ghayadah to the hospital, while Manasra offered to lead Ghayadah’s wife and her two young daughters behind them.
When their car did not start, he got out of the vehicle and was shot, according to B’Tselem.
Manasra’s family appealed to Israel’s Supreme Court to overturn the plea deal, but the court dismissed the appeal in November.
In a ruling on Wednesday, a majority of the military court upheld the deal calling the shooting a “clear operational incident”.
Jamal Manasra, the father of the slain man, said “there is no justice” in the murder of his son.
“He wanted to help a family and was shot for no reason,” Manasra said. “I lost him and now I don’t see justice for him.
B’Tselem said the court ruling was part of a policy of “systemic laundering and lack of accountability for the Israeli security forces who shoot and kill Palestinians without justification, instead of using Israeli forces. order to protect the victims ”.