IDF, politicians back officer who killed stone-thrower

Palestinian teen succumbs to wounds; Binyamin Brigade commander ‘acted in self-defense,’ says superior

Mourners carry the body of Palestinian youth Mohammed Sami al-Kasbeh, 17, during his funeral in Qalandiya refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Ramallah July 3, 2015. (Flash90)
Mourners carry the body of Palestinian youth Mohammed Sami al-Kasbeh, 17, during his funeral in Qalandiya refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Ramallah July 3, 2015. (Flash90)

The security establishment and political echelon defended the actions of a brigade commander who shot and killed a 17-year-old Palestinian stone thrower early Friday morning.

The incident occurred at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah, after the youth threw stones at a military vehicle.

According to the IDF, troops driving a vehicle near the West Bank village of al-Ram, north of Jerusalem, came under a hail of stones and boulders, which shattered their windshield. The soldiers exited the vehicle and called to the stone-throwers to stop, firing a warning shot into the air. When the attack continued, the troops opened fire, injuring one of the attackers.

The Palestinian teen, named as Muhammad al-Kasbeh, 17, was shot by the commander of the Binyamin Brigade, Col. Yisrael Shomer, who was traveling in the military jeep. Kasbeh later died of his wounds.

Large crowds attended his funeral later Friday.

OC Central Command Maj. Gen. Roni Numa arrived at the scene shortly after the incident and after initial questioning of those involved said the brigade commander acted as expected in incidents of this type.

“I give my full backing to the brigade commander and support his handling of this situation where the troops were in clear and present danger,” he said.

Investigative Military Police opened an investigation into the incident.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) quoted on his Facebook the Jewish saying “When one rises to kill you, kill him first.” Bennett added: “I completely stand behind the Binyamin Brigade commander that acted facing a terrorist to defend his own life and the lives of his soldiers. This is how a commander in the IDF should act. The people of Israel are behind you.”

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan, also from Jewish Home, wrote: “Throwing stones is terrorism. Stones kill. The Binyamin Brigade commander was acting in self-defense.”

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid called on the prime minister and defense to back the senior IDF officer: “The terrorist was throwing rocks at his vehicle – and rocks kill. IDF troops should be able to defend themselves and know that the diplomatic echelon has their backs. If someone does not believe rocks can kill, they can go to the grave of Adele Bitton, who from the age of two to four fought for her life after rocks hit her.”

Biton, from the West Bank settlement of Yakir, was laid to rest in mid-February after she succumbed to her injuries two years after she was hit with a rock when she was traveling in a car.

According to Channel 2, Palestinians claim Kasbeh was shot after trying to scale the security barrier, and not because he was throwing stones at the troops. He was making his way to Friday prayers in Jerusalem and was killed on his way to the checkpoint, Palestinian sources say.

The Fatah spokesman in Jerusalem, Rafaat Elian, threatened that the group will respond “harshly” to the killing of Kasbeh.

“This crime comes near the anniversary of a killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, and it shows that the government of Israel continues to draw the Palestinian people to direct confrontation. The blood of the innocents was not spilled for nothing, and we will respond harshly,” he said.

Abu Khdeir was a Palestinian youth who was kidnapped by Jewish terrorists and murdered brutally one year ago.

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