“Our soldier is a hero,” reads a poster that appeared in the town of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem. It’s just one of many that have appeared in recent days to support the Israeli soldier who killed a disabled Palestinian assailant in cold blood Thursday. The victim, Abdel Fattah al Sharif, 21, had stabbed a soldier in Hebron and lay wounded and motionless on the asphalt when an IDF soldier suddenly shot him in the head.
That story emerged thanks to a video filmed by a Palestinian activist with The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. But even as groups around the world are calling for swift justice, many Israelis are proclaiming the soldier, whom the authorities have not named, a hero who “did the right thing.” A public petition asking the military to award him the Medal of Honor has been signed by more than 50,000 Israelis. Meanwhile, the Palestinian who caught the killing on camera says settlers in Tel Rumeida have threatened to burn down his house if he doesn’t leave Hebron.
The killing triggered protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and heads of the armed forces, who condemned the summary execution and approved the soldier’s arrest. But on the other side, ultra-nationalist politicians, starting with Education Minister Maftali Bennett, criticized the government for investigating a soldier who “loves his fatherland” and “has done his duty.”