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Ynet: ‘Soft charges hurt more than bullet’

Ashraf Abu Rahma, bound Palestinian fired at by IDF soldier, laments lenient charges filed by Military Prosecution against officer who held him during Naalin shooting incident

By Ali Waked

To view original article, published by Ynet on the 7th August, click here

“This deplorable and ridiculous verdict takes me back to the incident, in which I was in the most humiliating situation – bound, as they fired on me,” Ashraf Abu Rahma told Ynet on Thursday, as he recalled the shooting incident in the West Bank village of Naalin several weeks ago. An IDF soldier was caught shooting a rubber bullet towards the bound Abu Rahma, which resulted in an injury to his big toe.

Abu Rahma was lamenting the Military Prosecution’s decision to indict Lt. Colonel Omri Burberg, commander of the Armored Corps’ 71st Battalion, with charges he believes are not severe enough. Burberg had held Abu Rahma while the soldier fired. The soldier, Staff Sgt. L, said the Lt. Col. had ordered him to fire.

The Military Prosecution indicted Burberg and L. on Thursday, charging them with conduct unbecoming and apparently seeking a suspended sentence. A trial date has not yet been set.

“This decision is far more painful and infuriating than what they did to me. It can’t be that instead of putting him (Burberg) in jail for 3-4 years they’re giving him a reward, saying that it doesn’t matter what you do to Palestinians, everything is acceptable and okay,” he bewailed.

“It was a crime that the entire world saw and most crimes against the Palestinian people are not seen and not filmed and they are a lot worse than what I went through. This verdict reminded me that Israel is only being called (sic) a state of justice and democracy. It is far from being so.”

Abu Rahma said he plans to sue both Lt. Col. Burberg and the army with the assistance of human rights organizations and his lawyers. He claims the incident and the charges prove that “there is not even a bit of truth in the Israeli claim that Israel is a state of justice and democracy.

“There is no justice in Israel and no democracy and no human rights. Where were all these in my case? The decision about Lt.-Col. Omri proves that these do not exist when it comes to the Palestinians.”

He added, “I don’t plan to give up, I have rights and I have honor, even if once again in Israel they’ve proven that they’re the judges and they’re the prosecutors and they’re the investigators and they’re the rulers, when it’s all just a big show.”

The Military Prosecutor’s Office predicts that the parties will reach a settlement. On Wednesday Ynet discovered that Lt.-Col. Omri Burberg is to be relieved of his office, and charged with behavior unbecoming of an officer.