As controversy continues to rage over the fatal shooting of a wounded terrorist in Hevron on Thursday, a former soldier who nearly lost his life in a similar situation has urged the public not to rush to judge the soldier who shot the Arab knifeman in the head.
Dror Zicherman lost his commanding officer and suffered critical injuries when a suicide bomber detonated his bomb vest during a security check in Tulkarem.
The incident took place in December 2005, during a routine anti-terror patrol in the Palestinian Authority city.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Zicherman blamed his commander's death and his own severe injuries on overly-stringent army procedures against opening fire on suspected terrorists. He insisted the actions of the soldier currently under investigation for killing the wounded terrorist – who had stabbed his comrade minutes earlier, and about whom troops in the vicinity had voiced concerns he may have been hiding an explosive device – should be viewed in light of those kinds of split-second, life-or-death scenarios soldiers regularly face.
Recounting his own brush with death, Zicherman described how, as his patrol stopped a taxi for a security check, his attention was immediately drawn to a passenger in the car.
"He wore a leather coat, and it was a very hot day – 25 or 30 degrees (Celcius) – and it was filled with something.
"I looked into his eyes… he looked like he was going to die."
Zicherman immediately aimed his rifle at the suspect, but his commanding officer ordered him to hold his fire, citing army regulations.
As the officer began to check the Arab terrorist he detonated his explosive vest, killing the officer and leaving Zicherman's body peppered with potentially lethal shrapnel. It took him many months to recover from his injuries.
He insists his own experience and the scenario which played out in Hevron on Thursday are "almost the same. I was injured and my officer got killed because we went according to the procedure."
Zicherman acknowledged that, at least from the video released of the incident, it does indeed appear that the soldier broke army regulations. But nevertheless he said it was wrong to automatically presume the soldier's guilt, and slammed the rush to do so in the Israeli and foreign press.
"I don't know what the situation was there, but he didn't murder him, he killed the terrorist because he wanted to save his friends… he's not a murderer.
"The army should check what happened, but it shouldn't be judged on Facebook or in the media."