'W. Bank deaths could be avoided'

Probing 4 Palestinian deaths in March, IDF finds lacunae in troops’ action.

reserve soldiers 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
reserve soldiers 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The deaths of four Palestinians in the West Bank last month could have been avoided and were the result of tactical mistakes and a lack of preparation by military personnel, the IDF Central Command concluded on Monday.
In the first incident, two Arab teenagers were shot dead by security forces during a demonstration near Nablus. In the second incident, two Palestinians were killed at a surprise checkpoint. The soldiers said the teenagers had tried to attack them with a pitchfork and a beer bottle filled with rocks.
The investigation of the incidents revealed that had the soldiers been better prepared to deal with the protests near Iraq Burin and at the checkpoint where the soldiers were surprised, the four deaths could have been prevented.
The shooting of the two demonstrators is being investigated by the Military Police, but the Central Command’s inquiry revealed that the military force that was at the scene of the demonstration arrived unprepared for the violent protest and as a result the commander gave orders to shoot rubber bullets into the crowd. The Palestinians claim that the two youths killed were shot with regular bullets, which if fired by soldiers, was done so in violation of direct orders.
In the second incident, the soldiers manning the checkpoint did not put handcuffs on the Palestinians as they were questioning them, and at one point even turned their backs to them. This, according to the IDF probe, gave the Palestinians the opportunity to attack and led the soldiers to respond by shooting.
In recent weeks and particularly following the two incidents, OCCentral Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrachi spoke with senior commanders andordered them to review the IDF’s rules of engagement in the West Bankwith their subordinates.
Also on Monday, the IDF continued to investigate the circumstancesbehind the death of a 63-year-old Palestinian man who, according toPalestinian reports, was forced to wait for hours at a checkpoint inthe Jordan Valley.
Palestinian medical officials said that man, a diabetic, died ofdehydration and cardiac arrest during a lengthy wait on Saturday nightat the Hamra checkpoint. According to witnesses, the man was held backsince he also held French citizenship and was therefore required toreceive special clearance to pass through the checkpoint.