Military Police question soldier who shot dead unarmed Palestinian
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Military Police question soldier who shot dead unarmed Palestinian

Though not formally charged, IDF member reportedly suspected of ‘causing death’ in Friday’s Silwad shooting

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

Israeli security forces at the scene where Iyad Hamad, a Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli soldiers after running towards a guard post near the West Bank village of Silwad, August 26, 2016. (Flash90)
Israeli security forces at the scene where Iyad Hamad, a Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli soldiers after running towards a guard post near the West Bank village of Silwad, August 26, 2016. (Flash90)

The IDF’s Military Police Investigative Unit questioned a soldier who shot and killed an unarmed Palestinian man near a guard post in the central West Bank on Friday, an army official said Monday.

The soldier is suspected of “causing death”; however, he has yet to be formally charged with any crime, the military said, denying earlier reports that he is facing possible charges of involuntary manslaughter.

“He was investigated in connection with the death on Friday,” an official said.

The soldier, a member of the Kfir Brigade’s ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion, has been questioned under caution to determine what led to the shooting of 38-year-old Iyad Hamad outside the West Bank settlement of Ofra on Friday.

The Military Police officially launched its investigation on Saturday, and the soldier was brought in for questioning on Sunday and will likely be interrogated again in the coming days.

During his interrogation, the soldier who shot Hamad claimed he followed the army’s rules of engagement and felt threatened at the time.

According to the IDF’s initial investigation, troops stationed outside Silwad, near Ramallah, identified a suspect, Hamad, running toward them and opened fire, killing him.

However, Palestinian medical officials said the Silwad resident, a father of three, was shot in the back. Hamad is also said to have suffered from mental illness and was receiving psychiatric treatment, Hebrew media reported.

Despite incorrect initial reports that he had shot at the soldiers, Hamad was not armed during the incident and does not appear to have presented a threat to the troops, according to preliminary findings.

His body has already been returned to his family for burial, an army official said.

Palestinian mourners carry the body of 38-year-old Iyad Hamad, during his funeral in the West Bank village of Silwad, August 26, 2016. Flash90)
Palestinian mourners carry the body of 38-year-old Iyad Hamad, during his funeral in the West Bank village of Silwad, August 26, 2016. Flash90)

“He was a very simple man. Either he got lost and tried to get to the mosque through a dirt road. We don’t know, but it is clear that there was no need to shoot him. He didn’t pose a threat to anyone,” a relative, Walid Hamad, told the Haaretz news site Saturday.

Channel 2 reported that troops were on high alert since earlier this week amid reports that a Palestinian suspect had disappeared from his home, with the intention of carrying out a terror attack. The alert was canceled on Friday morning.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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