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Palestinian shot in Naalin claims soldiers said he ‘deserves it’

Hanan Greenberg | YNet News

2 December 2009

Ashraf Abu Rahma, who was shot by IDF soldier during anti-fence protest takes stand in military court, says he was arrested for no reason, bound, and beaten by soldiers. ‘I heard a shot, I was hit, and I fell,’ he testifies.

Ashraf Abu Rahma, the Palestinian who was shot in the foot with a rubber bullet while he was bound and gagged after being arrested in a demonstration in Naalin in July 2008, arrived Wednesday in the Kirya’s military court to testify against the two defendants in the affair – the then-commander of the 71st Battalion and the soldier suspected of the shooting.

According to Abu Rahma, after he was shot, the soldiers said to him, “You deserve this and even more.”

Abu Rahma came face-to-face with the defendants on Tuesday for the first time since the incident. Lt. Col. Omri Burberg and Staff Sgt. (res.) Leonardo Corea, sat on the defendants bench without even casting a glance at the witness. Abu Rahma addressed the judge when he asked that his assailants be judged to the letter of the law.

At the start of his testimony, Abu Rahma claimed that there were no grounds for his arrest at the said protest. He said that following his arrest, he was beaten by Border Guard officers and blindfolded. “They bound my hands. I heard a shot. I was hit in the leg and fell,” said Abu Rahma. According to his testimony, after being shot, he heard the soldiers saying to him in Arabic: “You deserve this and even more.”

The event, which was first reported in Ynet, occurred on July 7, 2008. During that time, the village Na’alin was under curfew and full closure for four days. Palestinians, Israeli left-wing activists, and international peace activists marched from the village of Dir Kadis in order to bring food to the besieged residents of Na’alin.

Abu Rahma, who was among those protesting, was arrested for about a half an hour. He was taken to a military jeep by Lt. Col. Burberg who was in the field. Once he was next to the jeep, one of the soldiers near him shot at him. According to Abu Rahma, he was hit in the foot.

The former battalion commander was charged with making threats, and the subordinate soldier was charged with unlawful use of a weapon. Previously, the two were slapped with the relatively light charge of inappropriate conduct, however, the indictment was changed following an unusual intervention by the High Court of Justice.

The Military Advocacy has yet to formulate a stance on what type of punishment it will request be handed to the defendants if they are found guilty. However, in closed conversations with the Military Advocacy, they said they will seek heavy punishments for both Burgerg, who has since left his position in the battalion and has been transferred to a lesser position, and for Corea, even though he already completed his military service