Military police investigators are joining the investigation into the shooting death of an Israeli man Wednesday night in Jerusalem by two IDF soldiers who said they believed he was a terrorist.
The victim was shot and killed by a soldier on a bus near the western entrance to the capital, after a physical altercation he had with two soldiers in which each side apparently concluded the other was a Palestinian terrorist.
The soldiers told investigators after the shooting that they believed the man was trying to grab their firearm during the scuffle, which took place on a bus on Yirmiyahu Street in the capital’s Romema neighborhood, and came after another day of attacks against Israelis.
“The initial investigation concluded that the gunfire came from a soldier,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said. The soldier’s involvement has led to the launching of an investigation within the IDF, the army said.
“The details [of the incident] are under investigation within the security services. The circumstances are being examined.”
“The soldiers had high suspicions that he was a terrorist,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Thursday.
According to police, the incident began when the two soldiers boarded a bus and were asked for identification by the victim. When the soldiers, in response, asked the man to identify himself and submit to a search, police say he physically assaulted them and tried to seize one of the firearms they were carrying.
The soldiers opened fire on the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The man did not have a knife on him, as was initially reported.
The incident occurred during an especially tense day. Earlier Wednesday, a female soldier was stabbed and critically injured by a Palestinian at Adam junction just north of Jerusalem, a vehicular assault in the West Bank left five soldiers injured, and a man rammed his car into a checkpoint near the settlement of Ofra, injuring a policeman.
The incident is not the first case of the mistaken killing of a purported terrorist. It comes three days after an Eritrean asylum seeker was mistaken for a terrorist during the terror attack at the Beersheba Central Bus Station on Sunday night, and was shot by security forces before being severely beaten by a mob.
Haftom Zarhum, 29, died of his wounds later that night. Police said they arrested four people in connection with the beating, which was filmed. Zarhum’s autopsy found he died of gunshot wounds, rather than the beating he received from bystanders.
AP contributed to this report.