The IDF and the Border Police launched a dramatic rescue operation to extract two Oketz K-9 unit soldiers who accidentally strayed into the Palestinian Kalandiya neighborhood north of Jerusalem on Monday night, and found themselves in the midst of a massive riot, which later turned into a gun battle between Palestinian gunmen and security forces.
Palestinian sources said two Kalandiya residents were killed in the fire exchange. Israeli sources said they knew of one Palestinian gunmen who was shot dead, after he fired on, and struck, a Border Police officer in the knee.
A total of five Israeli security personnel were injured in the clashes; four lightly, and the fifth, the wounded Border Policeman, was listed by doctors at Hadassah University Medical Center on Jerusalem's Mount Scopus as being in moderate condition.
An army source said the incident began at around 10:50 p.m. on Monday night, when the vehicle carrying both soldiers entered Kalandiya.
"We don't yet fully understand how it got there. The soldiers became surrounded in a very big riot, with many rocks thrown at their vehicle. They continued driving, and then Molotov cocktails were thrown at them, setting the vehicle on fire," the source said.
At that stage, the soldiers escaped their vehicle and split up.
IDF Central Command dispatched large numbers of forces to Kalandiya to rescue the soldiers. One maintained cell phone contact with the army throughout the incident, and was rescued within 30 minutes as he hid in a yard. The second soldier was rescued shortly before midnight from the settlement of Kochav Yaakov.
Neither soldier was harmed in the incident.
The rescue operation quickly descended into a gun battle. On Tuesday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that during exchanges of fire, "one of the Palestinian gunmen was shot in the head and killed. He was armed. Others were injured. Our forces sustained a number of injuries, both Border Police and IDF combat soldiers."
"Our soldiers are in our hands. We are currently getting the vehicle out of the area," the source said, speaking late on Monday night.
"There are a number of things we will have to check, including the circumstances of how the soldiers entered Kalandiya," the army source added.
The soldiers were using the Waze navigational program but it is not yet clear whether the program, or human error caused them to turn into Kalandiya. This is still under investigation.
Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin
Think others should know about this? Please share