An IDF soldier was killed Wednesday night during a Duchifat Reconnaissance Unit operational activity in the town of Bir Zeit north of Ramallah, apparently from a bullet fired from his own weapon.
The soldier, 20-year-old Sergeant Noam Adin Rechter Levy from Mitzpe Netofa, sustained mortal gunshot wounds to the head during physical clashes with rioting Palestinians in the area.
The incident occurred shortly after 3 am, while the unit was conducting searches in the town. During the operation several Palestinians started a riot, which escalated into a violent phyisical clash with the soldiers, during which a gunshot was fired, hitting Rechter Levy the head.
He received medical treatment on the scene, but was pronounced dead shortly after the shooting.
Immediately following the incident the brigade launched an investigation into the shooting. The soldier was shot by an IDF weapon and one of the possibilities that was initially looked into is that Rechter Levy was hit by friendly fire. But it was ruled out after a short probe.
The investigation later revealed that it was highly likely the the bullet that killed Rechter Levy was fired from his own weapon, but it was unclear what caused the shooting, and all possibilites are being investigated.
IDF forces operate routinely at night in the West Bank's Judea region. Their activity focuses on arresting Palestinians suspected of being involved in terror. Five wanted suspects were arrested in the area of the incident Wednesday night; three other have been arrested in Nablus and eight in Bethlehem.
This is the military's first casualty in the last three and-a-half months. The latest fatal incident took place on January 27th, six days after the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, after an explosive device blew up near a force moving close to the Kissufim crossing.
An officer was killed in the explosion, and three soldiers were injured.
A sharp rise in security incidents was registered in the West Bank in April. The IDF reported of 57 terror attacks taking place in the West Bank and Jerusalem, compared to 46 in March. Many of the incidents involve the throwing of Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles.
On Wednesday Border Guard officers stationed at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron shot and killed a Palestinian man who approached a guard post and disobeyed several orders to halt. One officer was lightly wounded in the incident.
Efrat Weiss contributed to the report