ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 138

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Ben Gvir backs troops: 'Let the IDF win'

IDF soldiers enter Arab Israeli city against regulations, clash with locals; 5 hurt

Military says troops were chasing after Palestinians who infiltrated Israel via West Bank security barrier; incident under investigation

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

Israeli soldiers seen in the Arab Israeli city of Kafr Qasim, early September 9, 2023. (Screenshot: X)
Israeli soldiers seen in the Arab Israeli city of Kafr Qasim, early September 9, 2023. (Screenshot: X)

Israeli soldiers chasing after two Palestinian suspects who infiltrated through the West Bank security barrier early Saturday entered the Arab Israeli city of Kafr Qasim and clashed with locals, lightly injuring five.

The Israel Defense Forces said the entry of troops to Kafr Qasim — a task that would normally be handled by police and not the army — was against regulations and the incident would be further investigated.

Surveillance camera footage from around 1:30 a.m. showed four Israeli soldiers walking down the streets of the city, pointing their weapons at civilians, engaging in physical altercations with some, and using a stun grenade.

According to the IDF, forces carrying out a patrol along the West Bank barrier, near the Palestinian town of Azzun, spotted two Palestinian suspects infiltrating Israel.

Troops launched a pursuit after the suspects into Kafr Qasim, where they then clashed with locals.

The IDF said the troops entered the city and spotted a group of locals, including one armed with a club.

During an altercation between the group and the troops, an officer seized the club from the man’s hand and used crowd dispersal means, the IDF said.

Hebrew-language media reported that five locals were taken to a hospital for treatment.

No soldiers were wounded, the IDF said.

According to Channel 13 news, in the morning hours, an army jeep arrived at the area of the incident. MK Walid Taha of the Islamist Ra’am party, a resident of the city, arrived and attempted to question the driver who refused to identify himself, the network reported.

“The incident last night in which four soldiers entered the eastern neighborhood of Kfar Qasim without coordination with the local police, threw a stun grenade in the street and brutally attacked five people at the entrances to their homes, is a particularly serious and dangerous incident, which could have ended in a real disaster,” Taha said on Twitter.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, who oversees the police, praised the soldiers in a statement on Saturday night.

“I read the IDF spokesperson’s announcement that ‘the entry of troops into Kafr Qasim is against the regulations,’ and I am stunned. Kfar Qasem is exterritorial?!” Ben Gvir said.

“I give full support to our heroic troops, who, during operational activity, fulfilled their role and engaged. Our troops work day and night with dedication and while risking their lives, in order to maintain the safety and lives of the citizens of Israel and we are committed to providing them with full support. Let the IDF win,” he added.

Illustrative: The West Bank security barrier is seen near the Palestinian city of Qalqilya. (Flash90)

Several Palestinian terrorists managed to enter Israel from the West Bank through gaps in the fence during a string of attacks in the spring of last year, whereupon the military deployed numerous units to the security barrier area.

The number of Palestinians identified illegally crossing through the barrier dropped from around 30,000 a day in March 2022 to several hundred a day since April 2022, and down further to several dozen a day in recent months, according to the IDF.

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