(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The IDF Central Command launched an investigation Sunday into the fatal shooting of a Palestinian at a checkpoint in the Jordan Valley.
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Identified as Muhammad Dharaghma, the 21-year-old Palestinian arrived at the Bekaot Checkpoint in the northern Jordan Valley, south of Beit She’an, and did not heed a soldier’s call to stop to stop.
The Palestinian was unarmed but IDF sources said that he was carrying a bottle in his hand and that the soldier later told his commanders that he felt threatened.
“After the Palestinian didn’t stop and the soldier felt threatened he opened fire,” one officer explained.
After the soldier shot Dharaghma in the thigh, two other soldiers ran to the scene and, thinking that their friend was under attack, they also shot him. A total of eight rounds were shot by the soldiers who were standing behind protection walls, according to the initial IDF investigation. He was pronounced dead at the checkpoint.
Sunday’s shooting came a day after a Palestinian woman was reported to have died
of injuries she sustained from inhaling tear gas during an anti-security barrier demonstration near the West Bank town of Bil’in.
Israel came under sharp criticism for both killings, which are currently under investigation.
IDF sources said that the military was studying Sunday’s shooting to determine whether the soldier operated in accordance with fire regulations and whether his life was genuinely threatened.
Last year, the Central Command modified open-fire regulations in the West Bank, making more stringent the rules of engagement before soldiers are allowed to discharge their weapons.
The decision to change the rules of engagement was made in line with IDF policy to avoid violence in the West Bank as part of Israeli efforts to bolster the Palestinian Authority.
There is also an understanding in the IDF that a possible tactical mistake like the deaths on Saturday and Sunday could cause diplomatic damage to the state and provide the Palestinian Authority with additional excuses not to renew peace talks with Israel.Jpost.com Staff contributed to this report.