JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's military announced it would review the shooting of a Palestinian man who was killed in the Gaza Strip while walking in a group of people waving a white flag, saying footage of the episode raised concerns of possible wrongdoing by soldiers.
A video shows a group of five men walking slowly down a street in an area west of the southern city of Khan Younis, a current focus of Israel's ground offensive.
As clouds of dark smoke billow overhead, the men hold their hands in the air. One waves a white flag, an international symbol of surrender.
Suddenly, shots ring out, killing Ramzi Abu Sahloul, a 51-year-old Palestinian shopkeeper, who was part of the group.
The shooter is not seen in the video. But before the shots are fired, the camera pans, showing what looks to be an Israeli tank positioned nearby. Ahmed Hijazi, a citizen journalist who filmed the episode, told The Associated Press that an Israeli tank fired on the group.
“After the soldiers shot him, I rushed to help, but the firing continued toward us,” Hijazi said.
An Israeli military official said Sunday that the army was reviewing the shooting, which took place Jan. 22.
The official said the video, first broadcast by CNN, had helped authorities understand that there were military forces in the area and that there might possible wrongdoing by soldiers. The British channel ITV earlier had aired a similar video.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because there had not yet been an announcement, would not say whether a formal investigation would take place.
The military says forces take great care to verify targets before they strike.
In the video, Hijazi interviewed Abu Sahloul shortly before he was shot. Abu Sahloul said that the group of men was trying to reach relatives whom they had left behind earlier in the day while evacuating their home in southern Gaza.
“The Israelis came to us and told us to evacuate, but they didn’t let my brother out,” Abu Sahloul says. “We want to go and try to get them, God willing.”
Within seconds, Abu Sahloul is shot dead. The other men quickly grab his body and rush back in the direction from which they came. The men declined to be interviewed for fear of retribution.
Palestinians and human rights groups have accused the Israeli military of using disproportionate or indiscriminate force in its Gaza offensive, leading to heavy civilian casualties. They say that even when such killings are caught on video, military investigations rarely result in indictments of the soldiers involved.
Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, over 26,000 Palestinians have been killed by a blistering Israeli ground and air offensive, according to health officials in Hamas-run Gaza. They do not differentiate between civilians and combatants but say two-thirds of the dead are women and minors.
Israel launched the offensive in response to an Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel in which militants killed 1,200 Palestinians and brought some 250 hostages back to Gaza.
Israel says that Hamas fighters have embedded themselves within civilian infrastructure, making it difficult to destroy the militant group without harming civilians. It says over 9,000 militants have been killed, though it hasn't released evidence to back the claim.
Abu Sahloul’s widow, 50-year-old Hanan Abu Sahloul, said that in the hours before last week's shooting, the army had entered a building where the family was sheltering along with over 300 others. She said that Israeli forces ordered residents to leave without their belongings.
“When I tried to take my bag, a soldier aimed his gun at my head and ordered me to leave it,” she said.
In the video taken by Hijazi, Hanan Abu Sahloul can be seen running toward her husband, screaming, while the group of men hastily haul his limp body back toward safety.
As gunshots continue to ring out, a bloodstain quickly spreads over her husband’s chest, dark red quickly enveloping the white flag that one of the other men placed on his chest.
“He was immediately killed — without even a few breaths to say goodbye,” Hanan Abu Sahloul said.
Follow AP’s coverage of the Israel-Hamas war at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war