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Probe opened after IDF troops shoot at Israeli family’s car that swerved at them

Mother says they were trying to escape Palestinian’s burning tires, didn’t see the soldiers when they accelerated on wrong side of West Bank road; mom and kid lightly hurt

Illustrative: IDF soldiers at a checkpoint in the West Bank. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
Illustrative: IDF soldiers at a checkpoint in the West Bank. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Israel Defense Force troops mistakenly opened fire on an Israeli family driving through the Jordan Valley on Saturday, believing the passengers were trying to carry out a ramming attack when they accelerated away from burning tires in the road set alight by Palestinians.

The family was traveling to their home in the West Bank settlement of Neve Daniel when the incident occurred.

“When we approached the village of Al-Auja, we saw fire on the road, and we immediately thought it was a Palestinian checkpoint and that we were going to be ambushed and lynched,” the woman identified only by the initial “S” told Channel 12 news on Sunday.

“We were terrified. We did not know what to do. I tried to shout at my husband to make a U-turn but he did not do it because he thought there could be another vehicle behind us,” she said.

The woman said that her husband checked the opposite lane for incoming traffic and seeing that it was clear, decided to accelerate past the fire. However, she said they hadn’t noticed the group of IDF soldiers on the other side of the road.

“Suddenly some soldiers were standing in front of us and they probably thought we were coming to carry out a car-ramming attack because we were traveling on the wrong side of the road at great speed, and it must have looked suspicious,” the woman said. “They shot at us and I shouted to my husband: ‘They are soldiers.’ As soon as he understood, he stopped and we shouted at them that we were Israelis.”

The woman said the soldiers shot at the vehicle with both live fire and rubber bullets, but stopped as the vehicle came to a halt.

“I don’t know if they heard us and that’s why they stopped, or if they just realized we were Israelis, but all of a sudden it stopped,” the woman said, adding that although a number of bullets were shot into the car containing the two adults and their five children, nobody in the family was seriously hurt.

“The live bullets got stuck in the car doors and the rubber bullets hit the windshield. Glass flew over me and I was hurt,” the woman said. “The window next to my eldest daughter in the back shattered completely, and luckily she was not hurt. My little daughter, a year-and-a-half old, was hit very lightly and has a few scratches.”

The IDF told Channel 12 that the incident happened after a riot broke out near the Jordan Valley village of Al-Auja, when rioters threw stones at the road and lit a tire.

“IDF forces partially blocked the route and shortly after, a car passed by, swerved and drove quickly on the opposite side of the road in the direction of the troops,” the military said.

“The troops felt they were in danger and initiated a suspicious arrest procedure, which included live firing at the wheels of the vehicle traveling toward them and firing of rubber bullets. The incident will be investigated,” the IDF said.

Violence in the West Bank has increased since terror groups in the Gaza Strip began firing rockets at Israel on Monday amid rising Israeli-Palestinian tensions centered on Jerusalem, setting off the worst flare-up of fighting in seven years.

There have been a number of ramming attacks in recent days, with an attempted car-ramming attack on troops at Hawara in the northern West Bank on Monday morning. No troops were injured and the assailant was arrested, according to the IDF.

Israeli security forces inspect the scene of a car-ramming attack that wounded several police officers, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, May 16, 2021. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

On Sunday, seven Border Police soldiers were injured, including two moderately, in a car-ramming attack in Jerusalem’s flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

On Saturday night a Palestinian was shot dead while attempting to commit an attack near Dahariyya Junction in the southern West Bank, the military said. Another similar attempt near Ofra on Friday also resulted in the death of the attacker.

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