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Israeli commander suspended over rubber-bullet shooting

  • Story Highlights
  • Israeli military cites "moral failure of command" in incident
  • Commander on 10-day leave while military ponders next steps
  • Video shows soldier shooting blindfolded Palestinian with rubber bullet
  • Military, rights group say detainee was wounded in toe, treated and released
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The Israeli military said Tuesday that it has suspended a lieutenant colonel for "moral failure of command" after one of his soldiers fired a rubber bullet at close range at a blindfolded Palestinian in military custody.

The Israeli military began investigating the July 7 incident after video of it was released by an Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem.

Lt. Col. Omri Borberg will be placed on a 10-day leave of absence while the military determines the next steps in the investigation, the military said in a statement.

The soldier who fired the rubber bullet is also under investigation.

During the military hearing on the incident, Borberg said he did not intend for the soldier to open fire but only for him to "carry out an act of deterrence," the military said in a statement.

Still, the head of Israeli Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, determined that the action was "a severe incident that presents a moral failure of command."

The video clip published by B'Tselem shows a Palestinian man handcuffed and blindfolded, held at the arm by an Israeli soldier while another soldier points his gun at his legs from close range.

The soldier fires the weapon and the Palestinian flinches, but it's unclear from the video where the man was hit.

The Palestinian is 27-year-old Ashraf Abu Rahma, a demonstrator protesting on July 7 in Nil'in, a West Bank village near Ramallah, according to B'Tselem.

Both the Israel Defense Forces and B'Tselem said Abu Rahma was wounded in the toe and that he was treated by an IDF doctor before being sent home.

"The injury was sustained when an IDF soldier fired an anti-riot weapon in close proximity to the detained Palestinian man, who had been arrested for taking part in a violent riot near the village of Nil'in," the IDF said.

IDF Brig. Gen. Avichia Mendelbilt ordered a military police investigation into the incident upon receiving the footage, which B'Tselem said was taped by a 14-year-old girl.

"This was a serious incident in stark violation of the IDF's rules of conduct and safety," the IDF statement said.

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