IDF said to admit troops shot at wrong suspects in West Bank attack 2 weeks ago

Report says three men detained following incident near Yabed were never interrogated, family of one cited as saying soldier apologized

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, early July 27, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, early July 27, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli military on Monday reportedly admitted that troops mistakenly shot, wounded, and detained three Palestinian suspects during an attack on an army post near the West Bank city of Jenin two weeks ago.

In the incident early August 28, the Israel Defense Forces said troops carrying out “proactive activity” near Yabed, west of Jenin, opened fire at a number of suspects, who were allegedly hurling makeshift bombs from a passing vehicle at a nearby military post.

The soldiers detained three of the wounded suspects, while a fourth was taken by Palestinian medics to a hospital in Jenin. The Palestinian Authority health ministry said he was listed in serious condition.

The Kan public broadcaster reported Monday that the three men — two West Bank Palestinians and an Israeli citizen — were never interrogated.

The report said one of the men, Wasim Herzallah, 30, was wounded in the leg by gunfire and released home from an Israeli hospital after being treated.

The second suspect, Ali Hassan, 19, was moderately wounded in the shoulder and is still undergoing rehabilitation at Tel Hashomer Hospital. The report said he is currently paraplegic.

The report quoted Hassan’s uncle Saleh ‘Atara as saying “a soldier who accompanied us in the first days at the hospital apologized for the shooting.”

The third wounded suspect, Hassan Qassem Suleiman, 41, is an Israeli citizen from Baqa al-Gharbiyye living in the West Bank, the report said. Suleiman was seriously wounded after he was shot in the head, and was still sedated and intubated.

Kan reported that Suleiman’s brother Aatef asked the army to return his personal belongings that were seized following the incident, and after three days the items — his car, ID card, and cellphone — were handed over to him at a checkpoint.

The report said the family members of the men claimed they were returning home from buying cigarettes late at night.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit did not immediately comment on the incident, but a military source cited in the report admitted that the troops mistakenly shot at the wrong vehicle.

“A vehicle with terrorists threw a bomb at troops who were in the post, and another force that was operating near the post opened fire at the vehicle. After an initial investigation, it was understood that the vehicle that threw the bomb quickly left the road. One of the fighters who responded by shooting accidentally identified another vehicle that turned out to be uninvolved,” the source said.

“The reality in which terrorists operate in civilian spaces is very challenging and we try to be as precise as possible and constantly improve in order not to harm those not involved,” the source said, adding that the incident was being investigated “by the highest ranks.”

Violence has surged across the West Bank over the past year and a half, with a rise in Palestinian shooting attacks against Israeli civilians and troops, near-nightly arrest raids by the military, and an uptick in revenge attacks by extremist Jewish settlers against Palestinians.

Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank since the beginning of the year have left 27 civilians and three soldiers dead, and several others seriously wounded.

According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 181 West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinians have been killed during the same period — the majority during clashes with security forces or while carrying out attacks, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under unclear circumstances, including by armed Israeli settlers.

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