JERUSALEM // Israeli forces on Sunday raided the homes of the family of a Palestinian whose killing by an Israeli soldier has been widely condemned as an execution.
Troops targeted the village of Jabal Abu Rumman near Hebron arresting two men including the brother of Abdul Fatah Al Sharif, 21, who was shot in the head on Thursday as he lay on the ground, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.
The security operations came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the Israeli army as controversy spread over the killing, which was caught on video.
The shooting led to the soldier’s arrest and strong condemnation from military officials. The Israeli army are conducting a murder inquiry into the shooting, the first such legal proceedings in six months of violence.
But some right wing politicians and their supporters have reacted angrily to the soldier’s arrest.
Mr Netanyahu on Thursday joined condemnations of the soldier’s behaviour but appeared to back-pedal slightly on Sunday in remarks at the start of a cabinet meeting.
“Any challenge to the morality of the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) is outrageous and unacceptable,” he said.
“The soldiers of the IDF, our children, maintain high ethical values while courageously fighting against bloodthirsty murderers under difficult operational conditions.
Mr Netanyahu leads one of the most right-wing governments in Israeli history but holds only a one-seat majority in parliament.
Video from Thursday’s killing in Hebron in the occupied West Bank spread widely online and threatened to further inflame tensions amid a wave of violence that erupted in October.
It showed the 21-year-old Palestinian, who along with another man had allegedly stabbed a soldier minutes earlier, lying on the ground, apparently after being shot.
The soldier then shoots him again, in the head, without any apparent provocation. Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for Israeli rights group B’Tselem, which posted the video, called it an “execution”. The second Palestinian man was killed immediately.
According to Army Radio, the soldier arrived on the scene after other troops determined the Palestinian no longer posed any danger, and twice told comrades he “deserves to die”.
The UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, called it “a gruesome, immoral and unjust act”.
The soldier was detained, and Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon vowed that the incident would be treated with “utmost severity”.
But far-right politicians, including Education Minister Naftali Bennett, have defended the soldier, while members of his family reportedly said he was being publicly “lynched” and would not receive a fair trial.
Several dozen people on protested to call for the soldier’s release over the weekend, Israeli media reported, while posters were seen calling for military chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot’s resignation.
More than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces since October.
Palestinians killed have mostly been accused of were carrying out knife attacksby the Israeli authorities.
But Israeli forces have been accused of using excessive force and summary executions in response. Twenty-eight Israelis have been killed.
Also on Sunday, Israeli forces injured two Palestinians youths and detained two in predawn raids in Al Duheisha refugee camp near Bethlehem, Maan reported.
With Agence France-Presse