Jonathan Lis
December 11, 2008 - 1:00am

The West Bank settler who was caught on film shooting at Palestinians last week was put under house arrest on Thursday.

Ze'ev Braude, 51, of Kiryat Arba, is alleged to have shot two Palestinians at close range during the evacuation of a disputed house in Hebron.

The Jerusalem District Court on Thursday overruled a previous Magistrate's Court decision, which moved to release Braude with restrictions, after the presiding judge refused to extend his remand until an appeal was served.

In her decision to release Braude, Magistrate Malka Aviv criticized police forces for not having arrested the Palestinians documented on the same video hurling stones at Braude.

"The police are bound by the conception that is portrayed in the media," said Aviv.

She described Braude as a "respectable citizen" with no criminal record, who "happened" to find himself in a violent incident.

"It was clear from the film I saw that the lynch was carried out on the suspect who was lying on the ground helpless, while more Palestinians gathered to kick and beat him," she wrote.

Braude, a Kiryat Arba resident, turned himself in to police last week after an activist with the B'Tselem human rights group caught him on film shooting at Palestinians at short range and hitting two.

One of the prosecution attorneys asked the magistrate after the hearing to reconsider her decision to release the defendant, in view of the case's high profile.

"I don't conduct the hearing according to the media's reactions, not even the international media's," she replied.

But District Judge Orit Efaal-Gabay criticized Magistrate Aviv, writing in her decision that she did not "see eye to eye with the Magistrate's Court that the respondent poses no danger if released."

She also criticized Aviv's assertion that Braude received harsh treatment from police, as compared to the Palestinians who had beaten him.

"Even if police actions were flawed, they do not justify the inappropriate release terms the respondent was accorded," she wrote.

She also wrote that his self-defense claim should be used to underestimate the gravity of his the shooting.

"It seems that the incident erupted when the respondent approached the local residents and willingly confronted them.

Braude's defense attorney, Ariel Atari, welcomed the decision and said that when the court gets hold of the footage of the beginning of the incident, which is absent from the current video, will his claims for self-defense be proven.

During the evacuation of the so-called House of Contention, Braude approached the Matriya family residence, drew his gun and shouted at the family members to go inside, the indictment says.

Hosni Matriya, 44, went up to Braude and told him to leave. Braude struck him and aimed his gun at him, said the indictment. Hosni's father, Abed el-Hai, 67, walked up and asked Braude to leave. Braude pushed el-Hai. Other family members came to help push Braude away and he fired at them. The first bullet passed close to one man's head and the second one hit Hosni's chest. A third bullet hit el-Hai's arm. El-Hai and two family members attacked Braude and stopped him from again firing his gun. They held him until Kiryat Arba residents arrived and took him away, the indictment says.

Hosni, who was shot in the chest, is awaiting surgery to take out shrapnel that remains around the wound. El-Hai, whose arm was broken, has been operated on twice and his arm has been set with screws.

The prosecution said that the evidence proves that "Braude initiated the incident at the plaintiff's house, which was out of his way. During the argument with the plaintiffs he struck his fist into the face of one of them. At this stage none of the plaintiffs was acting violently. The father of the family wrestled with him to stop the shooting - during the wrestling the defendant shot him as well."

Jamal Abu Safan, a relative of the injured Palestinian, told Haaretz that the court's decision shows "how racist Israel and its justice system are." He demanded that an independent body investigate the case.


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