The Palestinians overnight Monday returned an M16 rifle stolen from IDF soldiers who accidentally entered the West Bank city of Jenin and were attacked and beaten by a mob, the army said.
When the two soldiers, a man and a woman, drove into the city, local residents began attacking the car with rocks and chairs, breaking the windows and bloodying the soldiers.
The stolen weapon was located overnight and handed back to Israel by the Palestinian Authority security forces, who had rescued the two injured soldiers from the rioters as part of the PA’s security coordination with the IDF.
Palestinian political parties and social media users slammed the PA for extricating the soldiers, decrying the ongoing security coordination as “treason” and hailing the rioters as “heroes.”
The IDF is still investigating the incident, which could have ended in the soldiers’ death were it not for the quick intervention by the PA forces.
An initial probe found that the duo had been using the Waze navigation app, which relies on user-supplied data to help drivers find the fastest routes and avoid traffic jams or speed cameras, the army said on Monday. However, one of the soldiers had disabled a feature preventing the app from leading them to areas defined as dangerous — in this case, Palestinian-controlled areas.
They also ignored street signs declaring the area off-limits to Israeli citizens.
Before the riot began, the female soldier could be seen holding an M-16 assault rifle, without a magazine, across her lap.
Videos from the scene showed people surrounding the vehicle and clawing at the soldiers inside it, including one person who appeared to try to grab the female soldier by her hair.
The female soldier was taken to a nearby Israeli hospital for treatment, the army said.
Palestinian security forces could be seen in the videos protecting the Israeli soldiers during the riot. They also helped them leave the area.
Deputy Governor of Jenin Kamal Abu al-Rub said the IDF vehicle was attacked by Palestinians for “nationalist motives.”
He confirmed PA policemen rushed to the scene to secure the safe exit of the vehicle from the city.
The IDF said the car was brought out of the city through coordination with the Civil Administration, a Defense Ministry unit that acts as a liaison between the military and the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, the Israeli security forces arrested 13 Palestinian terror suspects overnight throughout the West Bank. One of them was caught wielding a knife near troops in Hebron.