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IDF commander involved in shooting bound Palestinian evades jail term

27 January 2011 | YNet News

Lieutenant-Colonol Omri Borberg breathed a sigh of relief Thursday after evading demotion, but residents of Naalin have no plans to let the sentence slide. Ashraf Abu Rahma, the Palestinian who was shot while bound and blindfolded, was extremely upset upon hearing the judges’ ruling.

“The officer committed a crime, the court’s decision is unreasonable,” he told Ynet.

“I can’t understand how he can remain in the army after you see him on tape giving an order to shoot me. It’s a crime.”

The Tel Aviv military court ruled Thursday that Lieutenant-Colonel Omri Borberg, the battalion commander who was involved in the Naalin shooting incident, will not be demoted. The judges ruled such a punishment “will gravely hurt him” and recommended his promotion be postponed for two years. Borberg broke into tears as the sentence was being read.

Abu Rahma’s family also rejected the ruling. “This is the occupation’s court, it’s illegal. They fired at a blindfolded detainee,” Ashraf’s cousin said. “They should have put him in jail, it’s a war crime.”

Muhammad Khatib, member of Bilin’s popular committee admitted he did not have his hopes up as far as the sentence was concerned. “We are disappointed with the decision mainly because it will not deter others from doing the same. The Israeli legal system has a different approach when dealing with matters pertaining to Palestinians,” he said.

“Our current option is to launch an international campaign. We’re looking into the possibility of approaching the International Court of Justice.”

Muhammad Knaan, a Naalin resident who claims to have witnessed the shooting said: “It’s illegal to fire at a person when they’re bound. We didn’t want to see him in jail but we did expect the decision to address his rank and position. The court should not have let him stay in the army.”

The shooting incident was filmed by Salam Knaan. Claims were raised against the video suggesting it was doctored. “Professionals checked the tape and came to the conclusion it was authentic. The whole world saw the crime committed in Naalin,” Salam said.

Borberg, on the other hand, said he completely agrees with the court’s ruling regarding his role in the Naalim shooting affair. “It’s hard to describe the heavy load I’ve been carrying lately. I’m glad it’s over,” he said.

He added: “All I care about now is to return to my family, to my daughter, and continue contributing to the IDF.”