Israel’s incoming national security minister, speaking to the soldier who shot a Palestinian man dead at point-blank range on Friday, hailed the killing as "precise, swift and rigorous", calling the shooter a "hero".
Itamar Ben-Gvir said the soldier had carried out a job "well done" in fatally shooting 22-year-old Ammar Mefleh, whose death was caught on video and shared widely on social media.
In the video, the soldier - who has not been identified - scuffled with Mefleh in the occupied West Bank town of Huwwara near Nablus before pulling a gun and firing two shots that sent the youth to ground before shooting him twice more.
"Precise action, you really fulfilled the honour of all of us and did what was assigned to you," Ben Gvir told the shooter in Saturday’s remarks.
"You protected yourself and the people there. Every terrorist will know that if he wants to steal a weapon and kill a fighter - this is how the fighters operate."
Israeli forces have claimed that Mefleh had tried to carry out a stabbing attack before he was fatally shot, however in the video Mefleh's hands are empty during the scuffle with the solider, including during the moments in which he was shot.
In response to Ben Gvir's praise, the soldier told the MP that he was "glad that we were able to do what was expected of us and that it ended this way".
The comments directly contrast rights groups’ description of the shooting as an "execution" in "broad daylight".
Following the incident, Jewish Voice for Peace on Friday called on the US to cut off all military funding to Israel, highlighting that Mefleh was the ninth Palestinian killed by the Israeli military this week.
Meanwhile, the International Human Rights Foundation said the shooting "must not go unpunished", calling for sanctions against Israel.
"Such assassinations by agents of the Israeli state are too common and constitute a clear violation of human rights. The International Community must adopt sanctions," the group said in a post on Twitter.
For his part, Tor Wennesland, UN special envoy for the Middle East Peace Process, offered his "heartfelt condolences" to Mefleh’s family while demanding accountability.
"Such incidents must be fully & promptly investigated, & those responsible held accountable," Wennesland said.
Source: Middle East Eye