JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The Israeli military said on Monday that it was investigating a video that appears to show an Israeli army sniper shooting a motionless Palestinian across the border in Gaza, to whoops of excitement from the onlooker.
Israeli television channels broadcast the clip at the start of their primetime evening news bulletins – with one host describing it as “disturbing” – after it circulated widely on social networks.
Its release comes after more than a week of daily protests by Palestinians at the Gaza-Israel border in which 30 Gazans have been shot dead.
However, the Israeli military said that the clip might have been filmed months ago.
The amateur-style video focuses through a lens or viewfinder on a person in the distance, beyond a wire fence, standing still and alone. A gun fires and the person falls to the ground.
“Wow, what a video. Yes! Son of a bitch! What a video. Here, run to evacuate him,” a voice says in Hebrew as people are seen running toward the person.
In a tweeted statement, the military said: “With regard to the video of the soldiers at the Gaza Strip border – it was probably an event that occurred a number of months ago. The event will be investigated and examined thoroughly.”
Reuters was been unable to verify the source of the video, or its authenticity.
Ayman Odeh, a senior lawmaker from Israel’s Arab minority, said it was “a clip that terrifies the soul, rejoicing over the taking of a life and what appears to be the execution of someone who endangered no one”. He called for the shooter to be put on trial.
The Israeli military has stationed sharpshooters to enforce a no-go zone near the border fence and stop Palestinian attempts to breach the border during a protest that has been called “The Great March of Return”.
The protesters are reviving a long-standing demand for the right of return of Palestinian refugees to towns and villages from which their families fled, or were driven out, when the state of Israel was created.
Protest camps have sprung up a few hundred meters inside the fence. But large groups of youths have ventured considerably nearer, burning tires and hurling stones.
Israel says it has been warning Gazans for weeks not to approach the border fence, and accuses Hamas, the armed Islamist group that controls Gaza, of instigating the protests.
Israeli officials have declined to specify exact distances that Palestinians must maintain from the fence.
Maps of Gaza from recent years by United Nations humanitarian agencies indicate a “no-go zone” of up to 100 meters from the barrier, with limited access for farmers in some areas from 100-300 meters.
(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Stephen Farrell; Editing by Kevin Liffey)