The Palestinian siblings shot dead during an attempted attack on Israeli border guards at the Qalandiya crossing in the West Bank last week were killed by civilian security guards and not Israeli forces, an army investigation determined.
Since security forces did not fire the fatal shots at Maram Hassan Abu Ismail, 23, and her brother Ibrahim Saleh Taha, 16, the Military Police’s investigations unit on Sunday announced the defense establishment would drop its investigations into the incident. Abu Ismail had hurled a knife at Israeli forces before she was shot, according to the Israeli military.
According to Hebrew media reports, the April 27 incident is to be probed by investigators from the Jerusalem District Police.
The Military Police said the Border Police officer guarding the busy West Bank crossing at the time complied with army protocol and arrest procedures by firing warning shots into the air as the siblings approached guards at the checkpoint in a suspicious manner. A guard from a privately contracted security firm fired seconds later.
סוכל פיגוע: נקבע מותם של המחבל והמחבלת שחוסלו בניסיון פיגוע בקלנדיה
Posted by באזזנט on Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Last week, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said security forces at the checkpoint spotted Abu Ismail walking towards guards with her hand concealed inside her purse and Taha’s hand behind his back, holding something.
“The officers called them to stop a number of times,” she said in a statement last week.
“The female terrorist stopped a short distance from the officers, then walked the other way with the man, when she suddenly turned around to face the officers again, pulled a knife that was in her purse and threw it at an officer near her,” Samri said.
The kitchen knife that was thrown was recovered from the scene, while an identical knife and a Leatherman-style multi-tool were discovered in Taha’s belt, she added.
Both were said to be residents of Beit Surif, a village in the central West Bank.
The Defense Ministry often contracts guards from private companies to bolster its security presence at major checkpoint crossings between Israel and Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank.
Its guards are legally and professionally subordinate to the police.
The private guards don’t usually come into contact with Palestinians crossing through the checkpoints, and are frequently stationed behind concrete barriers to generally reinforce Israeli security in the area.
Qalandiya and the adjacent crossing between the West Bank and Israel has been a flashpoint of conflict in the recent wave of violence that has rocked Israel since September of last year.
The shooting is the latest in a wave of Palestinian stabbing and car-ramming attacks that has killed 29 Israelis and four foreign nationals since last October.
Some 203 Palestinians have been killed during the same period, most while carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks against Israelis, army officials say.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.