Initial reports from the scene indicated Tsiki Eyal was run over by a Palestinian taxi at a checkpoint on the Trans-Judea Highway.
Coroners at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute near Tel Aviv say Eyal was shot in the head. According to IDF officials, the bullet was probably fired by one of his colleagues guarding the checkpoint on the Halhoul Bridge north of Hebron.
No autopsy has been performed.
An initial IDF investigation of the incident revealed a group of soldiers standing on the bridge ordered a Palestinian taxi coming at them to stop. The driver slowed, only to hit the gas pedal and careen in the direction of the soldiers.
According to the investigation, Eyal managed to shoot at the taxi in self-defense.
But the other soldiers at the checkpoint “returned fire” at the escaping taxi upon hearing the original shot, accidentally hitting Eyal instead.
An M-16 bullet was found in Eyal’s head, indicating he was struck by friendly fire.
Terror attack or traffic accident?
It is still not clear whether the Palestinian intentionally tried to run down the soldiers, or whether the incident was a routine traffic accident.
Following the incident, doctors said seven bullets were extracted from the Palestinian driver, Iyad Dwik.
Dwik was not known to have been associated with any terrorist organization, nor has any Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the incident.
Palestinian officials in Hebron said they immediately suspected the incident was not a terror attack.
IDF representatives only managed to notify Eyal’s family of the incident Tuesday, after tracking them down during a Pesach vacation in the north.
The family is aware of renewed efforts to establish the cause of death.