Soldiers thought house was terrorist hideout; mixup the result of village feud.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
A Palestinian gunman and his 50-year-old mother were killed and three armed Palestinians wounded in a gun battle that erupted between soldiers and Palestinians in Rajoub, south of Nablus, early Sunday. The dead Palestinians were identified as Fawzi Dwekat, 20 and his mother Nawal.
Soldiers operating in the Samaria village spotted suspicious movement inside the building, and noticed a number of gunmen located on the rooftop of the two-story house. Minutes later, they spotted Dwekat loading his weapon and preparing to shoot. Soldiers fired at him and hit him.
An intensive gun battle erupted, as Palestinian gunmen positioned in several locations inside the house as well as on the rooftop opened fire at troops outside. The soldiers returned fire and later discovered that Dwekat and his mother had been killed and three other people wounded.
Searching the building, soldiers discovered an M-16 rifle and matching ammunition clip as well as a hand gun, and empty bullet casings scattered on the floor in several different places inside the building.
As a routine measure conducted after every military operation, a probe was launched to investigate the incident. The army said that while it regretted the death of a Palestinian civilian, soldiers had responded accurately to the Palestinian gunfire.
Samaria district commander Col. Yuval Bazak told reporters that while he regretted the mother's death, the soldiers believed their lives were in danger and responded accordingly. Bazak said he plans to investigate the incident.
Palestinian media reports said that Fawzi carried a rifle to ward off attempts by neighbors to set fire to the family's cars. According to the reports, a feud exists between the Dweik family and another family in the village. Other reports claimed his mother was shot and killed when she rushed up to the rooftop of the house after hearing the gunfire.
The army denied Palestinian reports that Dweik was standing outside the house when he was shot.