IDF: More investigation needed in Nablus shootings

Sources say soldiers might have been able to use non-lethal means.

March 23, 2010 02:10
2 minute read.
IDF soldiers shoot tear gas canisters at Palestini

IDF tear gas protest 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

The Military Advocate-General’s Office is reviewing the IDF shooting of two Palestinians on Sunday near Nablus, and will decide in the coming days whether to refer the case to the Military Police.

The incident took place Sunday morning at a checkpoint that four soldiers from the Kfir Brigade’s Nahshon Battalion had set up in a field east of Nablus, just below the settlement of Itamar. The field is off-limits to Palestinians without authorization from the civil administration.

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The two Palestinians, both 19 years old and dressed as farmers, approached the soldiers, who separated them. After several minutes, according to the IDF preliminary investigation, one of the Palestinians began mumbling what appeared to be a prayer in Arabic and then pulled out a Heineken beer bottle filled with stones, prompting one of the soldiers to open fire for fear that he was about to be attacked.

The second Palestinian, who was carrying a half-meter-long pitchfork, pulled out a syringe, appearing getting ready to storm another soldier, who shot him as well.

IDF sources said Monday that the incident required further investigation, since it appeared that the soldiers had not been in a life-threatening situation and could have used non-lethal means to detain the Palestinians.

Other sources said the soldiers had operated in accordance with engagement regulations once they felt that their lives were in danger.

The problem, one officer pointed out, was that the soldiers had had their backs turned to the Palestinians when they were attacked. Had they been looking at the Palestinians, they would have been able to prevent the deaths.

“The problems appear to be with the way the soldiers conducted themselves up until the attack,” one officer said. “Had they not turned their backs on the Palestinians, they would have been able to see if they were planning something and been able to use other means to stop them. Since they were surprised, they likely did not have a choice but to use their weapons.”

Meanwhile Monday, Brig.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, established a team of medical and forensic experts to probe the Saturday clashes near Nablus that led to the deaths of two Palestinian 16-year-olds.

Useid Qadus was shot in the head, medics said, and Muhammad Qadus died of a wound to the chest.

The IDF stressed that soldiers had been under strict orders to use rubber bullets to disperse the demonstration on Saturday. On Sunday night, IDF officers met with Palestinian security officials and reviewed the CT scan of Qadus’s head to see if they could determine the type of bullet used.

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