Army probing Hebron incident where IDF used Palestinian car as cover from riot

Footage shows Hani al-Ja’abari and his 4 children being forced out of vehicle in middle of dusty intersection; they were said to have waited 45 minutes until end of stone-throwing

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

The army said Thursday it was investigating a incident filmed in Hebron last month in which IDF soldiers pulled a Palestinian family out of their car in order to use the vehicle as cover from stone-throwers during a riot in the West Bank city.

In a February 16 clip documented by a field worker from the B’Tselem rights group, Hani al-Ja’abari can be seen driving home from Friday prayers in the flashpoint town when he is ordered by soldiers to turn into a particular street where riots are taking place.

After al-Ja’abari passes the junction surrounded by a throng of soldiers, reporters, and locals, an officer from the Paratroopers Brigade can be heard shouting at the Hebron resident to back his car up to the middle of the intersection.

The soldier then tells al-Ja’abari to turn off the vehicle and hand over the keys. After the Palestinian asks why, the officer grabs the keys from his hands and orders the Hebron resident along with his four kids, aged 4 to 13, to get out of the car.

Illustrative: Israeli settlers tease Palestinians as the annual parade marking the Jewish holiday of Purim passes by the divided West Bank city of Hebron on March 1, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Fellow Palestinian residents are heard telling al-Ja’abari that the soldiers are using his vehicle as cover from rock-throwing which was apparently taking place on the other side of the street.

Al-Ja’abari took his children to a nearby grocery store and then returned to the scene of the incident. He waited 45 minutes until the stone-throwing ceased and only then was allowed to retrieve his car, B’Tselem said.

In a statement responding to the “grave” incident, an army spokesperson said it “did not comply with IDF orders.”

“The event is being investigated and its lessons will be implemented soon,” the statement concluded.

Hebron is the West Bank’s most populous city, holy to Muslims and Jews. Some 500 nationalist Israeli settlers live in fortified compounds heavily guarded by the IDF in the midst of 200,000 Palestinian inhabitants whose movements are heavily restricted.

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