Sparks flew Tuesday at the military court in Jaffa where IDF soldier Elor Azariya is being tried for the fatal shooting of a wounded Palestinian terrorist in Hevron.
Ofer Ohana, one of the ambulance drivers who responded to the stabbing attack which preceded the shooting in March of this year, and a central witness for the defense, took the stand Tuesday, and was grilled by prosecutors for a controversial video, aired last month, which appeared to show him kicking the terrorist's knife closer to him. Prosecutors say his actions were intended to cover up for Azariya, by making it look like he shot the wounded terrorist in self-defense, when in fact he did so to avenge the stabbing of his comrade moments earlier.
But Ohana immediately rejected that version of events. "When we arrive at the scene as medical personnel, we are careful" not to harm any potential evidence, he insisted.
Rather, he claims that while he did indeed kick the knife towards the terrorist, he did so only to correct the fact that his ambulance had accidentally knocked the weapon away from the attacker in the first place, because he feared it would alter the scene to make it look like Azariya opened fire for no reason.
Following is a transcript of the questioning in full:
Prosecutors first showed a video taken after the kicking incident.
Prosecutor: Another video shows the terrorist on the floor – why were you filming him again?
Ohana: It was after the terrorist was shot.
How far away was the knife (from the terrorist)?
The same distance as it was before.
Who said to you in the background of this film "Ofer, delete the video"?
I just heard it now. It's the first time I heard that someone said that.
Why would you need to delete this video?
I have no idea. I passed everything on to the military investigors.
You're sure you passed it on?
Prosecutors then showed the video of Ohana kicking the knife.
Prosecutor: Why did you not pass this video on to the investigators at the first opportunity?
Ohana: I don't remember that I didn't pass it on.
When you handed over the video was it edited?
Why did you shout in the video "brother, mark the knife!"?
Ohana requests the right not to answer that question, at which point the prosecutor challenges him: "Will the answer incriminate you?"
Ohana again refuses to answer, and the defense council then objects to the line of questioning.
At that point, the judges ruled that the answer would not be used as evidence against Ohana, who explained his reticence to address the issue by claiming he had been attacked by the media and Arab extremists since the video was leaked to the public, and that his life had been repeatedly threatened. "This endangered my life. When I gave the material I did it so that they could arrive at the truth of the matter," he said.
Again, the prosecutor asked why he requested that the site of the knife should be marked out.
Ohana: I didn't move the knife because I (thought) that maybe it wouldn't be run over by the ambulance, but after I saw that the ambulance had moved the knife I moved it (back) so that it should stay at the scene, and the Arabs wouldn't say the there was no knife at the site.
Prosecutor: And you said to mark it so that its original position should be documented?
You kicked the knife?
Why did you move it towards the terrorist?
Not towards the terrorist, but towards the scene (of the attack) so that it would not move further down(hill) to Police Square
Did the knife move further down?
In the film, a police officer can be heard saying "Why did you do that?" after Ohana kicked the knife.
Prosecutor: What did you answer the police officer?
"So that it wouldn't fall down to Police Square"
If you knew this was a scene which needed to be investigated why did you move the knife?
I moved the knife towards the scene… because I suspected that the ambulance would (accidentally) drag the knife downhill and away from the scene.
Ohana added that he knew he would have to drive down that route and wanted to ensure that the knife was not in the lane.