"The acid burned his eye, and after two or three seconds – all he could see was black," said the brother of the IDF soldier who lost sight in one of his eyes after a Palestinian woman threw acid in his face at the Hawara checkpoint on Monday afternoon.
The checkpoint is located south of the West Bank city of Nablus.
Troops managed to apprehend the woman, who is believed to have carried out a similar attack several weeks ago at the same crossing. She was arrested and taken in for questioning. The soldier was evacuated to the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva for treatment.
Soldier's gear after acid attack (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The Golani Brigade soldier, a resident of Or Akiva, is expected to undergo surgery Tuesday afternoon, after which doctors will be able to assess the damage done to his right eye, his brother Vitali said.
"My brother ordered the Palestinian woman to approach, but he could not see her hands. Someone called him over the radio transceiver, so he lowered his head a bit; that's when she threw an acidic substance at his eyes," according to the sergeant's brother.
Vitali said his brother recalled the seconds after being hit with the acid: "He tried to wipe his eyes with his hands and dropped his rifle. He told me that he quickly crawled on the floor in search of his weapon. He didn't want anyone to snatch it and open fire. As soon as he found the rifle he laid down on top of it."
Hawara checkpoint after incident (Photo: AP)
The injured soldier then yelled "I'm hurt", at which point his comrades began treating him and clearing the checkpoint. The soldiers washed his face with water and evacuated him to the hospital.
"The right eye was severely damaged, and he has blurry vision in his left eye . My brother hopes to recuperate quickly, because he is supposed to begin officers' training in a month-and-a-half and he doesn’t want to miss it," Vitali explained.
The brother said that following a similar incident that occurred two weeks ago, during which a Palestinian woman poured acid on a soldier manning the same checkpoint, "my father brought my brother protective goggles from work, but my brother laughed and refused to put them on."
The commander of the company manning the checkpoint, Lieutenant Avihai Weitzman said the initial investigation into the incident revealed that the 19-year-old Palestinian woman passed through the humanitarian checkpoint designated for woman, children and the elderly and poured a bottle containing a poisonous acidic substance on the soldier.
According to the officer, the woman tried to flee toward Nablus but was apprehended by the checkpoint's commander.
"Thousands of Palestinians pass through Hawara every day, and most all of them are innocent," the lieutenant said. "We plan to investigate the incident and draw the necessary lessons."
Efrat Weiss contributed to the report