Probe into deadly Jerusalem checkpoint shooting finds ‘severe errors’; 3 cops fired

IDF chief Kohavi says ‘lack of professionalism’ among forces at crossing near Shuafat led to killing of Sgt. Noa Lazar; troops to be permanently withdrawn, replaced by police

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

Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack at a checkpoint outside the Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem, October 8, 2022. (Flash90)
Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack at a checkpoint outside the Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem, October 8, 2022. (Flash90)

A scathing report published by the military and police on Monday pointed to a series of failures and shortcomings that led to a soldier being killed in a shooting attack at an East Jerusalem checkpoint last month. Following the investigation, soldiers will no longer be stationed at the crossing and several police officers are to be fired, while others are to be censured.

On October 8, Palestinian gunman Udai Tamimi got out of a car making its way through the checkpoint near the Shufat refugee camp, before slowly walking over to a group of soldiers and guards who were standing nearby, engaged in a conversation during a shift change. Apparently unaware of his approach, Tamimi pulled out a handgun and fired seven shots at the group, killing Sgt. Noa Lazar, 18, and seriously wounding a civilian guard, David Morel, 30. Tamimi managed to flee from the scene on foot, unscathed.

The IDF and police probe found numerous issues with the functioning of troops and police officers at the checkpoint regularly, and specifically with their lack of response during the attack.

The report said allowing pedestrians to walk around the checkpoint area, a routine occurrence, was a “severe error” that enabled Tamimi to get out of his car and open fire without arousing any suspicion.

“Border Police soldiers stationed there did not respond as expected,” the probe said. Three career officers who were at the scene are to be fired for failing to properly engage the attacker.

Another officer will be removed from his position for a year, and two senior officers — a company commander and a battalion commander — will be formally censured.

Sgt Noa Lazar, 18, who was killed in a shooting attack in East Jerusalem on October 8, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Military chief Aviv Kohavi labeled the case a “serious incident,” saying Sgt. Lazar was killed and the attacker was not “neutralized” or arrested, due to the troops’ “lack of professionalism and not striving to engage.”

Kohavi said that Lazar’s unit, the Military Police’s Erez battalion, would be pulled from the crossing within 30 days. They are to be replaced with Border Police troops and civilian guards.

The commander of the Border Police, Amir Cohen, also recommended fully transferring the control of the checkpoint to the Defense Ministry, as many checkpoints between the West Bank and Israel currently operate.

Kohavi approved allocating additional new army conscripts to Border Police so they would have enough workforce to operate the crossing. Meanwhile, police will transfer some of its officers from the West Bank division to the Jerusalem division to man the checkpoint.

Separately, Kohavi instructed relevant officials to appoint a logistical officer that would be in charge of improving defenses and technological means at the checkpoints the army still operates.

Lazar’s family was updated with the findings of the probe, the military said.

Udai Tamimi is seen opening fire at a checkpoint near the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim on October 19, 2022. (Video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Last week, the IDF said it would demolish Tamimi’s home in the Shuafat refugee camp. Tamimi was killed while attempting to commit another attack at a checkpoint near the entrance of the West Bank settlement city of Ma’aleh Adumim on October 19.

Indictments have also been filed against three East Jerusalem men for supplying Tamimi with the gun and being in the car with him during the attack.

The condition of the seriously wounded guard in the attack, 30-year-old David Morel, has since improved and he was transferred to a rehabilitation center last week.

The killing and ensuing manhunt contributed to already soaring tensions in the West Bank, as police placed a cordon around Shuafat, setting off days of rioting in East Jerusalem.

The fighting came amid an Israeli anti-terror offensive mostly focused on the northern West Bank to deal with a series of attacks that have left 26 people in Israel and the West Bank dead since the start of the year.

The operation has netted more than 2,000 arrests in near-nightly raids, but has also left over 130 Palestinians dead, many of them — but not all — while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.

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