Probe: No ethical flaw in commando killing of militant

Amos Harel

Haaretz

Kislev 29, 5765

Three days after the operations of the Naval Commando in the territories were suspended, the Israel Defense Forces last night decided that the elite unit should resume its role in hunting down Palestinian suspects.

An IDF investigation into an incident involving the commandos has concluded that its actions suffered from operational, not moral, flaws.

The suspension of operations by the Shayetet, as the unit is know in Hebrew, followed the fatal shooting of Mohammed Kamil, a member of Islamic Jihad, when he was unarmed and injured.

The incident on December 3 in the village of Raba'a near Jenin in the West Bank raised a public outcry after it became known that the commandos employed Palestinians in direct contravention of a Supreme Court decision, to approach the injured Kamil.

Details of the incident showed that the injured man had surrendered his pistol to the Palestinian civilians. He was shot and killed from a distance of 40 meters by commandos who saw him move. The soldiers say they thought he had another weapon.

The findings of the interim investigation, headed by Brigadier General Yair Golan, at the request of Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon, head of Central Command Major General Moshe Kaplinsky and Naval Chief, Major General David Ben-Ba'al Shem Tov, were presented yesterday and led to the decision to resume the unit's operations in the territories.

One of the orders issued to the unit is to "refresh the operational guidelines," as part of dealing with the shortcomings of their action during the Kamil incident.

The guidelines in question concern the rules for opening fire, as delineated by the Central Command, and the court banned use of Palestinian civilians as shields.

The IDF Spokesman last night said that the interim conclusions suggest that "there had been no ethical or moral failure in the operations of the naval commando unit, but there had been operational mistakes."

Military sources said the incident did not involve the execution of the suspect, as argued by the human rights group B'Tselem.

A reconstruction of the incident, says the IDF, shows the soldiers had a legitimate concern that the suspect was still armed.

The chief of staff expressed his "full confidence" yesterday in the naval commandos, its officers and men, and commended their operational competence in fighting terrorism.