IDF arrests Palestinian suspect in firebombing of IDF soldier who didn’t respond

Military says suspect taken in for questioning a day after incident in northern West Bank that sparked right-wing anger

A Palestinian man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of throwing a Molotov cocktail at a soldier at a checkpoint in the northern West Bank on Saturday evening, the army said. The incident has sparked right-wing fury since the soldier didn’t respond to the attack.

A video of the incident shows a man emerge from a car at the checkpoint, near the settlement of Kedumim. He approaches the soldier and speaks with him for several moments before pulling out the firebomb, lighting it and hurling it at the soldier, who dodges.

The man then runs away as the soldier watches, without responding to the attack.

“Following intelligence and operational activity by the IDF and the Shin Bet, the suspect in the hurling of the Molotov cocktail last night towards an IDF fighter… was arrested,” the military said in a statement.

The suspect has been taken for questioning, according to the statement.

The army said Saturday that it was also investigating the conduct of the soldier, a member of the Golani Brigade’s reconnaissance battalion, as well as other troops at the checkpoint, and viewed the incident gravely.

A Palestinian man is seen with an Israeli soldeir shortly before attacking him with a Molotov cocktail in the northern West Bank, December 19, 2020 (video screenshot)

Hard-right lawmakers fumed after the video went public.

“This story is just insane,” Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich tweeted. “But it’s not the soldier’s fault. The judicial system in the State of Israel that behaves as if in  Sodom is to blame.”

He appeared to be referencing claims on the right that soldiers’ hands are often tied in responding to attacks as they fear possible indictment for their actions.

Jerusalem Minister Rafi Peretz of the Jewish Home party said the incident should have ended with a “neutralized terrorist.”

“Dead or alive,” he wrote on Twitter, saying IDF commanders must ensure such an incident “doesn’t repeat itself.”

Earlier this month, a Palestinian was shot and injured after he refused to heed the calls of security guards at the Qalandiya checkpoint near Jerusalem. Police said the man was walking in a section of the checkpoint reserved for vehicles. When guards repeatedly called on him to stop and he did not comply, they shot him in the lower body.

That shooting came amid heightened tensions in the area, including violent clashes in a nearby refugee camp between Palestinian residents and Israeli troops. That same day, December 7, six Israeli border troops were hurt when residents of the Qalandiya refugee camp rioted and hurled cinderblocks and other heavy objects at officers from roofs during an early morning arrest raid. All six suffered light wounds. Some were hospitalized. The troops feared for their lives and opened fire on the protesters, the Border Police said. The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said at least four Palestinians were injured, three of them seriously and one moderately, all allegedly from live fire.

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