IDF opens probe after troops found to unnecessarily kill Palestinian at checkpoint

Brigade commander determines that altercation outside central West Bank village should not have ended in 45-year-old’s death, leading military police to launch investigation

Ahmad Kahla is seen scuffling with troops near the West Bank settlement of Ofra, January 15, 2023. (Screen capture/Twitter; courtesy)
Ahmad Kahla is seen scuffling with troops near the West Bank settlement of Ofra, January 15, 2023. (Screen capture/Twitter; courtesy)

The IDF’s Military Police Unit has launched an investigation after an initial probe determined that a 45-year-old Palestinian man was unnecessarily shot dead in front of his son during an altercation with Israeli troops outside of his central West Bank village last week.

The incident took place last Tuesday when troops set up a makeshift checkpoint outside Silwad to inspect the vehicles entering and exiting the village, according to the initial probe conducted by the brigade commander whose findings were leaked to the Kan public broadcaster on Sunday.

A large traffic jam subsequently formed, angering many of the drivers who began honking their horns in frustration. One of the soldiers at the scene decided to hurl a stun grenade in response.

An irate Ahmad Kahla then sought to get out of his vehicle but the commander of the squad on site blocked him from doing so and pepper sprayed the Palestinian, using mace he did not receive from the army. At this point, the soldiers decided to pull Kahla from his car.

A tussle ensued, as he resisted and also pulled at the gun of the soldier who sought to drag him out of the vehicle. One of the soldiers decided to then discharge his weapon, shooting Kahla in the upper body as his 19-year-old son looked on from in the car, Kan said the initial probe found. The father of four was pronounced dead at the scene shortly thereafter.

While initial reports identified Kahla as a terrorist who sought to carry out an attack, the brigade commander overseeing the initial probe concluded that wasn’t the case and that “the incident was not supposed to end with a man dead.”

The IDF said in a statement that a Military Police investigation has been opened into the matter and that its findings will be transferred to the Military Advocate General’s office. Prosecution of troops involved in such altercations is rare though.

The brigade commander’s initial probe was consistent with witness testimony provided to Kan last week who said soldiers were taking as long as half an hour to inspect a single vehicle before letting it through. When they arrived at Kahla’s car, the latter began shouting at the troops, the unnamed witness said.

He “shouted at them a bit so they came to the car and pepper-sprayed him. When they took him out of the car he was covered in pepper spray. He couldn’t see a thing. He started moving with his arms to and fro and one of the soldiers shot him,” the witness said.

The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry condemned the deadly incident as a “heinous execution.”

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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