A number of Israelis are calling into question the official version of the sequence of events surrounding this week's death of an Israeli soldier at the farewell ceremony for visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
According to defense officials, the soldier, a member of the Arab Druze community, apparently decided to commit suicide as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Shimon Peres were seeing Sarkozy off at Ben Gurion International Airport.
But commenters on Israel's Internet news sites expressed skepticism over the official version of events.
Most articulate among the dissenting voices was researcher Barry Chamish, who has made a career out of researching alternative theories behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.
When the shot that killed the soldier rang out, security officials originally feared an assassination attempt was in progress. Chamish questions that if that was the case, why Sarkozy was led up a flight of stairs to his plane, completely exposing him to any threat for nearly 10 seconds.
Chamish also found it odd that the soldier, if he was trying to make a scene, waited to shoot himself until a nearby band started playing, thus covering up the sound of the shot and diverting attention. The way in which the soldier fell from the building on which he was standing was also viewed with skepticism, as was the fact that all reporters were quickly removed from the scene and not allowed to cover the incident in any way.
Last, but not least, Chamish, who refrained for drawing any direct conclusions, noted that two female Israeli soldiers standing near the purported suicide victim fainted after hearing the shot. Israeli soldiers, even female soldiers, have become quite accustomed to dealing with violent scenes, and do not easily faint.
The two female soldiers, the only eye witnesses to the other soldier's death, were quickly removed and taken to a local hospital, where government officials reportedly visited them for a debriefing.