A Palestinian man tried to attack an IDF soldier with a metal table during a riot in the West Bank city of Jericho on Thursday morning, but was shot at and forced to the ground by Israeli troops, who were then filmed striking him repeatedly and apparently fatally wounding him during the arrest, the army said. The army said the assailant also tried to grab a soldier’s gun as he was being detained.
Relatives of the man — Yassin al-Saradeeh, 33 — and a Palestinian NGO claimed he died from being beaten by the troops.
The army said it was investigating what happened and collected testimony from the soldiers involved. An autopsy was also performed, though the results were not immediately available.
A military spokesperson acknowledged the video and said the soldiers were in the city for “routine activities” when the clashes broke out.
During the riot, the Palestinian man tried to attack one of the soldiers with an iron object, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
Security camera footage from the scene showed a Palestinian man throwing rocks at a soldier, who was taking cover behind a wall. Someone, presumably the same Palestinian man, can then be seen running toward the soldier with what appears to be a small table.
As the suspect ran at him, the soldier stepped out from behind the wall and shot at the man, who fell to the ground, though it was not immediately clear if al-Saradeeh had been hit by the gunfire. The Haaretz daily reported that no bullet wounds were found on al-Saradeeh’s body during the autopsy, but this could not be immediately confirmed.
In the video, other soldiers could then be seen punching and kicking the man, who struggled with them, before dragging him out of frame.
“[The troops] fought with the terrorist at close range and succeeded in stopping him,” the army said.
An army spokesperson said al-Saradeeh tried to steal a soldier’s gun, pointing to a moment in the footage — around the 28-second mark — in which the Palestinian man can be seen lunging at one of the soldiers.
“That’s also what the soldiers are saying in their debriefing,” the spokesperson said.
The army said a knife was later found in the Palestinian man’s possession.
The military said the soldiers fatally wounded al-Saradeeh while arresting him, but would not elaborate on the nature of his injuries. Army medics were brought in to provide treatment for al-Saradeeh, but ultimately pronounced him dead less than an hour after the clash back at their base, an IDF spokesperson said.
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The man’s family said he did not suffer from any diseases or preexisting medical conditions. Relatives claimed his death stemmed from injuries sustained during his arrest, when he was beaten.
The official Palestinian news agency WAFA quoted a relative, Ismail al-Masri, as saying soldiers beat al-Saradeeh “as soon as he approached his uncle’s house to check why the army was raiding it.”
His brother also appeared on Palestinian television and said that al-Saradeeh had been incarcerated by Israel during the Second Intifada for terrorist activities.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Club NGO also said that al-Saradeeh had inhaled a substantial amount of tear gas during the clashes.
His family said the IDF notified them of their son’s death on Thursday morning.
Residents of Jericho held a general strike in the city in response to al-Saradeeh’s death.
In raids across the West Bank, Israeli security forces arrested 11 Palestinian suspects believed to have taken part in violent demonstrations and rock throwing attacks, the army said.
In addition, troops found and confiscated an M-16 assault rifle and two locally produced Carlo-style submachine guns in the Palestinian town of Jiftlik in the Jordan Valley, as part of a joint IDF-Israel Police operation.
A pistol that had been hidden in a house in the northern West Bank town of Nur a-Shams, near Tulkarem, was also confiscated, the army said.
AP contributed to this report.