IDF has said it is investigating incident

US condemns ‘shocking’ video of Palestinian tied to hood of IDF car in West Bank

State Dept. calls for those responsible to be held accountable, pans Smotrich effort to expand Israeli civilian control in West Bank

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

IDF soldiers tie injured Palestinian detainee to hood of car after an operation in the West Bank, June 22, 2024. (X, formerly Twitter, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
IDF soldiers tie injured Palestinian detainee to hood of car after an operation in the West Bank, June 22, 2024. (X, formerly Twitter, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

WASHINGTON — The US on Monday condemned the “shocking” video of a wounded Palestinian tied to the hood of a military vehicle by Israel Defense Forces soldiers operating in the West Bank over the weekend.

“This practice is absolutely unacceptable. Humans should never be used as human shields,” said US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller, who was asked about the clip during a press briefing.

“The IDF should swiftly investigate what happened and hold people accountable,” Miller added, acknowledging a statement put out by the IDF on Saturday, which said that the soldiers’ conduct was being investigated.

Troops were operated Saturday in the Wadi Burqin area near the city of Jenin to detain wanted Palestinians. Amid the operation, the troops exchanged fire with gunmen, the IDF said afterward.

During a gun battle, the Palestinian seen in the video was shot and detained by troops, who suspected he was involved in the fighting, the IDF said. He was brought out of the area while tied to the vehicle’s hood.

He was later handed over to the Red Crescent, raising questions about the IDF’s claim that the Palestinian detained was indeed  suspect.

The IDF in response to a query on the matter said the soldiers’ actions were “contrary to orders and procedures.”

“The conduct seen in the video is inconsistent with IDF orders and what is expected of its soldiers,” the military said.

It added that the “incident is being investigated and will be dealt with accordingly.”

Since Hamas’s October 7 attack that saw terrorists kill some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and take 251 hostages, troops have arrested some 4,150 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 1,750 affiliated with the terrorist organization.

According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, more than 540 West Bank Palestinians have been killed in that time.

An Israeli army bulldozer operates at the entrance of Jenin in the West Bank, during a raid on June 13, 2024. (Zain Jaafar/AFP)

During the same period, 21 Israelis, including security personnel, have been killed in Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank. Another three members of the security forces were killed in clashes with terror operatives in the West Bank.

Miller was also asked during Monday’s briefing to react to recent comments made by far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, revealing a clandestine effort to expand Israel’s civilian control of the West Bank.

“We have made quite clear that settlements are counterproductive to peace, that the government of Israel’s settlement program is inconsistent with international law, and we will continue to make that clear,” he said.

“We will continue to make the case to [Israel] that actions like these don’t just harm the Palestinian people, but they ultimately are self-defeating. They ultimately hurt Israel’s interests and weaken Israel’s security,” Miller added.

Smotrich told supporters at an event Sunday night that he was seeking to prevent the West Bank becoming part of a Palestinian state.

Religious Zionist party leader Bezalel Smotrich speaks at a ceremony to inaugurate a new neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El, July 12, 2022. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

In a recording obtained by The New York Times, Smotrich described at length how he planned to transfer power from the military to civilians under his authority in the Defense Ministry, where he was handed broad power, as demanded in his Religious Zionism party’s coalition deal with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.

“We created a separate civilian system,” Smotrich said, adding that to deflect international scrutiny, the government has allowed the Defense Ministry to remain involved in the process, according to the Times.

“It will be easier to swallow in the international and legal context,” he continued. “So that they won’t say that we are doing annexation here.”

Smotrich also reportedly said that Netanyahu is “with us full on,” which the premier’s office appeared to push back on.

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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