Initial IDF probe finds Palestinian shot unintentionally during scuffle over generator

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Palestinians scuffle with Israeli soldiers outside of al-Tuwani in the West Bank, on January 1, 2021 (screenshot)
Palestinians scuffle with Israeli soldiers outside of al-Tuwani in the West Bank, on January 1, 2021 (screenshot)

An initial military investigation into the shooting of a Palestinian man last Friday finds that the bullet was not aimed at the man’s neck, but was fired unintentionally after another Palestinian grabbed the soldier’s gun.

The shooting left the 24-year-old man, Haroun Abu Aram, paralyzed from the neck down, according to Palestinian health officials.

A Military Police investigation has been opened into the incident. “This will include taking testimonies from Palestinians and collecting medical documents,” the Israel Defense Forces says.

The military says the lives of the soldiers involved were in danger.

The incident took place in the south Hebron Hills as troops arrived to confiscate an electric generator and other equipment from the unrecognized West Bank village of al-Rakeez that was allegedly used in illegal construction.

The IDF says the initial probe of the incident by the Central Command determined that a riot broke out as the soldiers attempted to seize the materials.

“After the Palestinians refused to leave the area and continued to attack the soldiers, the commander of the unit began an arrest protocol, which included firing into the air.

“While he was shooting, two Palestinian violently attacked the unit commander: one Palestinian forcefully grabbed the commander, and another Palestinian wildly grabbed his gun. Because of this, an unaimed shot was fired, which hit a different Palestinian, who was part of the rioters,” the military says in a statement.

Palestinian eyewitnesses have disputed this description of the events, saying the shot was not fired randomly, but intentionally.

“The soldier was, at the absolute most, two meters away from the young man. He raised his rifle and fired. It was deliberate,” al-Rakeez resident Murad Hamamdeh, who attested that he was at the scene, told The Times of Israel this week.