The Israel Police have confiscated weapons from five members of the rapid response security team at the Yitzhar settlement near Nablus after two incidents during which they opened fire at Palestinians against military regulations.

The police have also opened a criminal investigation into the shootings, which took place over two recent weekends.



In one incident, members of the Yitzhar squad opened fire in the direction of Palestinians in the village of Asira al-Qibliya, as clashes took place between settler youth and local Palestinians.

In a second incident a week later, settler youth again clashed with Palestinians as both sides set fire to fields and members of the Yitzhar team opened fire on a Palestinian youth who it said was carrying a pistol.



The Palestinian was shot in the stomach and several settler youths immediately ran to him, tying up his hands and beating him. IDF soldiers arrived at the scene, pushed away the youths and treated the Palestinian, whom the Palestinian Red Crescent then evacuated to a nearby hospital.

IDF soldiers said that while the Palestinian was carrying a knife, no pistol was found. The youths who tied up and beat him were not arrested at the time and police are searching for them.



“These are two serious incidents during which shots were fired against regulations,” a senor officer from the IDF Central Command said on Saturday night. “We have refined our rules of engagement for the settlement rapid response secure team to prevent instances like this in the future.”

NGO B’Tselem, which released video footage of both incidents, accused the IDF and Border Police of refusing to make settlers leave the area and of not acting to protect the Palestinians.

The IDF investigation into the first incident, led by OC Judea and Samaria Division Brig.- Gen. Hagai Mordechai, found that the soldiers acted correctly and that while in the video they appear to be standing by during the shooting, they made efforts to stop it and prevent additional hostilities.

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