Arab Israeli man shot, critically hurt by IDF during suspected smuggling attempt

Military says shots fired at suspicious vehicle near West Bank security barrier; soldiers apparently failed to properly report incident

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

IDF soldiers are seen operating in the West Bank, in an image published by the military on April 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF soldiers are seen operating in the West Bank, in an image published by the military on April 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

An Arab Israeli man was shot and critically wounded by Israeli troops on Friday night amid a suspected smuggling attempt along the security barrier with the West Bank, close to the city of Baqa al-Gharbiya.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, troops identified several suspects who approached the security fence near the village of Baqa ash-Sharqiyya, on the Palestinian side of the barrier. They then identified a suspicious vehicle approaching the fence from the Israeli side.

The IDF said one of the soldiers fired at the vehicle’s wheels as it began to flee the area.

One person in the car, a 20-year-old resident of the nearby town of Zemer, was critically hurt by the gunfire and sought medical attention in Baqa al-Gharbiya, according to Israel Police.

Troops did not pursue the vehicle after it fled, and it only later became clear that the driver was wounded.

Army Radio reported that the commander of the squad had fired into the air, while one of his soldiers fired four shots at the car’s wheels.

Israeli soldiers stand guard at a breach in the security fence which have been used daily by thousands of Palestinian workers to illegally enter Israel for work, near the Meitar checkpoint, south of Hebron in the West Bank, on April 3, 2022. (Hazem Bader/AFP)

When initially reporting the incident to superiors, the commander and his soldiers only noted the shots that were fired into the air.

The IDF was only made aware of the injury when police reported that the 20-year-old was injured in a shooting incident in the area.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, the soldier claimed in subsequent questioning that he thought the car was attempting to ram the troops.

The IDF said it would further investigate the case. A Military Police probe was also expected to be opened.

The wounded man was not immediately detained on suspicion of the alleged smuggling attempt.

In recent months, the IDF has dispatched thousands of troops to the seam zone area — a swath of West Bank land on the Israeli side of the barrier — to prevent Palestinians from crossing into Israel, following a series of deadly terror attacks in Israel earlier this year.

Last month, an Israeli soldier was killed by his comrade in a friendly fire incident along the West Bank barrier, close to the Palestinian city of Tulkarem.

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