Settlers not questioned as suspects in shooting death of Palestinian — report

Residents of Adei Ad outpost say they gave testimony to police and army about weekend violence in which man was shot dead

Resident of the West Bank outpost of Adei Ad who claims he was stabbed Saturday in an altercation with residents of the Palestinian village of the Ramallah-area village of Mughayyir. (Screenshot, Hadashot News )
Resident of the West Bank outpost of Adei Ad who claims he was stabbed Saturday in an altercation with residents of the Palestinian village of the Ramallah-area village of Mughayyir. (Screenshot, Hadashot News )

Residents of the West Bank outpost of Adei Ad on Sunday said they gave police testimony over a fatal clash over the weekend in which a Palestinian man was shot dead, but were not hauled in as criminal suspects.

Both the Israel Defense Forces and the Israel Police said they opened investigations into the incident and summoned all 20 members of Adei Ad’s local security team on Sunday to hear their account of the deadly altercation, the Haaretz daily reported on Monday.

No members of the group were questioned under caution and their weapons were not examined by investigators, the report said.

Hamdi Na’asan, 38, was killed Saturday near the Ramallah-area village of Mughayyir. There were conflicting claims as to how the deadly incident unfolded. Local Palestinians say the settlers fatally shot Na’asan during a clash, but Adei Ad residents claim their security guards fired shots in the air to chase away Palestinians attackers who stabbed a Jewish man.

“I really felt the hate, they really came to hurt me,” the unnamed wounded settler said in an interview on Hadashot news, relating that he was attacked by several Palestinians but managed to escape.

Palestinians carry the body of Hamdi Na’asan, during his funeral in the village of Mughayir, in the West Bank on January 27, 2019. (Flash90)

As the clash developed, loudspeakers on the village mosque announced that “the village of Mughayyir is being attacked by settlers. Everyone come to defend the village,” according to the television report.

Confusion still surrounds the different versions of events and the timeline of the clash. Audio recordings obtained by Hadashot news appeared to show the army being called by a local settler, half an hour after the clash started, who said that the Adei Ad civilian security team had been sent to the village. The caller was told by the army officer that “we are not dispatching forces to that.”

Twenty minutes later, a member of the security team called the army again, saying “we are talking about immediate threat to life.” The caller confirmed to the army dispatcher that he was talking about Mughayyir and the dispatcher replied that a Border Police force was already on the scene. However, the security team member said that the force was south of the village and apparently not at the location of the clash.

Many settlements have civilian security teams composed of residents who are usually army veterans. The teams train regularly and serve as a first response unit to security incidents until the IDF or police arrive on the scene.

Over the weekend, the IDF said there were initial indications that a settler from Adei Ad had a “physical confrontation” with several Palestinians and was slightly hurt.

“Shortly thereafter, a conflict erupted between Israeli civilians and Palestinians in the area, in which live rounds were fired by the civilians,” the IDF said in a statement. “One Palestinian died and several others are injured.”

It said that troops responding to the altercation used “riot dispersal means” to break up the disturbance, not live ammunition.

Tear gas is fired at Palestinian protesters by Israeli troops during clashes in al-Mughayyir village near Ramallah on January 27, 2019. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

Several Adei Ad residents told the Walla news site Sunday that soldiers did use live ammunition at the scene, contradicting the army’s version of events. The settlers claimed the altercation started after a 19-year-old Jewish man was lightly stabbed by a group of three Palestinians who were trying to kidnap him.

Hamdi Na’asan with his children (social media)

The residents said that when the civilian security team pursued the alleged attackers back to Mughayyir, they were set upon by “many Palestinians,” and only fired shots in the air after “they felt their lives were in danger.”

They claimed the IDF and Border Police forces responding to the incident also used live fire in the clashes in Mughayyir.

AFP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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