IDF joins police probe of soldier who shot him

Family says Yuval Castleman, killed after taking out terrorists, was ‘executed’

Castelman was hit by soldier who apparently mistook him for a terrorist during Jerusalem attack, but footage shows him unarmed, with his hands in the air prior to being shot

Yuval Castleman (courtesy)
Yuval Castleman (courtesy)

The family of Yuval Doron Castleman, 37, who died after being shot at the scene of a terror attack in Jerusalem by a soldier who apparently mistook him for a terrorist on Friday branded his killing an “execution.”

Castleman was taken to Sha’arei Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem in critical condition and was declared dead shortly before midnight, what would have been his 38th birthday.

“Yuval noticed a terrorist attack from the other side of the road while driving to his job at the government complex, and stopped his car to stop the terrorists,” Channel 13 quoted his family as saying on Friday. “He had previously served in the security forces and was always a hero and the first to jump in and save lives, which he did this time as well.”

Castleman rushed at the terrorists with his firearm and fired at them before being shot at himself by soldiers who were also at the scene.

Graphic video from the scene showed Castleman throw away his gun, fall on his knees and raise his hands in the air while shouting “Don’t shoot” as the soldiers approached him. He was then shot again by one of them.

His family told Channel 13 news that his death was an “execution.”

“No one has yet spoken to us officially. We want to know exactly what happened. In the footage, you can see that he charges at the terrorists and neutralizes them, and suddenly they shoot him,” Castleman’s father, Moshe, said. “They didn’t read the situation correctly. Right now, I can’t be judgmental, what would I have done in that situation? But I want them to thoroughly investigate this and draw conclusions from the incident.”

Israeli security forces have been condemned in the past for shooting and killing terror suspects even after they have been disarmed and no longer pose a threat, in contravention of open fire orders.

Far-right lawmaker Zvi Sukkot posted a picture of one of the soldiers on social media with the caption “hero,” but later deleted it when it became clear the person shot was Israeli.

After initially saying it had no plans to investigate the incident, the IDF changed tack on Friday, saying that following the findings of an initial probe by the Shin Bet and Israel Police, it was decided that the Military Police’s investigatory unit — known in Hebrew by its acronym metzach —  would also take part in the probe.

The army also said that “the IDF expresses sorrow at the death of the civilian.”

Police in a statement Friday said it was continuing to probe the attack.

“The findings of the investigation so far indicate that during the attack, one of the IDF soldiers identified and mistakenly suspected the late Yuval — who acted bravely and courageously to neutralize the terrorists — as a third terrorist,” police said. “The same soldier also fired at him which led to his serious injury and tragic death.”

“Military Police investigators joined the investigation,” police added.

Three other people were killed and five were wounded during Thursday’s terror shooting attack, which Hamas took credit for.

According to police, at around 7:40 a.m., two Palestinian gunmen got out of a vehicle on Weizmann Boulevard at the main entrance to the capital and opened fire at people at a bus stop.

Footage shows the two off-duty soldiers and Castleman returning fire, killing the two terrorists. Both soldiers had been on a break from fighting in the Gaza Strip, and were heading back to the front line when the attack occurred.

The terrorists were named as brothers Murad Nemer, 38, and Ibrahim Nemer, 30, residents of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher. According to the Shin Bet security agency, the pair were Hamas members and previously jailed for terror activity.

Murad was jailed between 2010 and 2020 for planning terror attacks under directions of terror elements in the Gaza Strip and Ibrahim was jailed in 2014 for undisclosed terror activity, the agency said.

The terror group said that the assault came in response to Israel’s war against it in Gaza and the killing of two children in the West Bank’s Jenin on Wednesday. Adam al-Ghoul, 8, and Basel Abu al-Wafa, 15, as well as two senior terror commanders, were killed yesterday by Israeli forces in Jenin. Hamas claimed 15-year-old al-Wafa as one of its members.

The terror group also called for an “escalation of resistance” and said that “the heroes of our people are mobilizing to avenge the blood of the martyrs.”

Footage of the attack showed that the terrorists were armed with an M-16 assault rifle and a handgun. A police search of the vehicle found large amounts of ammunition.

Security forces at the scene of a terror shooting attack at the entrance to Jerusalem, November 30, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Tensions in Israel and the West Bank have been high since October 7, when some 3,000 terrorists burst through the Gaza border into Israel in a Hamas-led attack, killing at least 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and seizing some 240 hostages.

Israel responded with an aerial campaign and subsequent ground operation with the goal of destroying Hamas and ending its 16-year rule over Gaza, and securing the release of the hostages.

The IDF has continued to operate throughout the West Bank and police have been on high alert in Israel, in light of concerns about a possible escalation of violence following the release of Palestinian security prisoners in the exchange for abducted Israeli hostages.

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