Commanders reprimanded over killing of Palestinian in apparent misunderstanding
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Commanders reprimanded over killing of Palestinian in apparent misunderstanding

Brigade commander censures officer, dismisses squad leader for 'unprofessional' conduct at checkpoint; Military Police investigation continues

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

Illustrative: Security forces are seen near the West Bank settlement of Halamish, where IDF soldiers shot dead a Palestinian driver who they said accelerated toward them, on October 31, 2017. (Flash90)
Illustrative: Security forces are seen near the West Bank settlement of Halamish, where IDF soldiers shot dead a Palestinian driver who they said accelerated toward them, on October 31, 2017. (Flash90)

A deputy company commander was censured and a squad leader was dismissed from his position on Monday over “unprofessional” conduct during a shooting in the West Bank last month, in which soldiers opened fire at two Palestinians, killing one of them, in an apparent misunderstanding at a temporary checkpoint.

These disciplinary measures came after the findings of an investigation were presented to the head of the IDF’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. Roni Numa, the army said.

A separate Military Police investigation into the deadly shooting is still ongoing. Once completed, the results will be handed over to army prosecutors who will decide whether to take criminal action against the soldiers involved.

Latifa Musa, who was shot by IDF soldiers near the West Bank settlement of Halamish while in a car with her brother, is seen at a hospital in the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 31, 2017. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

On October 31, Muhammad Abdallah Ali Musa, 26, and his 33-year-old sister Latifa Musa were driving down a West Bank highway near the Israeli settlement of Halamish and the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh.

According to the army, soldiers who set up a checkpoint along the road believed they were driving “suspiciously” and called for the siblings to stop their car. When they didn’t, the troops opened fire, killing Muhammad and wounding Latifa.

However, speaking to reporters after the shooting, Latifa denied they were called to halt by the troops.

“There were two soldiers behind stone barriers on the street. They suddenly began shooting at us without any warning. My brother tried to protect me,” she said.

Latifa said she and her brother were listening to music in the car while they were on their way to run errands.

Muhammad received treatment on the scene but was pronounced dead at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva.

The head of the Givati Brigade, Col. David Bar Kalifa, formally reprimanded the deputy company commander of the troops that opened fire on the Musa siblings for “failures in the way he passed along the message to soldiers identifying the car that was traveling suspiciously,” the army said.

The squad leader of the soldiers who were operating the checkpoint was also dismissed from his position “in light of unprofessional conduct from the moment he received the message and his conduct on the scene afterwards,” according to the military.

The army said it could not elaborate on the way in which the squad leader’s conduct was unprofessional as a police investigation was ongoing.

In its statement, the army said the lessons learned from the shooting — specifically “where soldiers should be located, the order of actions and how to respond to developments” — will be passed along to units throughout the army.

Times of Israel staff and AFP contributed to this report.

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