Central Command chief Gadi Shamni
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Kidnapped Palestinian taxi driver
Photo: Samih Shahin
Brigade commander censured over Dahariya incident
Central Command chief reprimands Kfir Brigade commander, Lavi Battalion commander following incident in which soldiers hijacked Palestinian taxicab, shot Palestinian
The commanders of the Kfir Brigade and the Lavi Battalion were reprimanded and censured Friday following the incident in which soldiers hijacked a Palestinian taxicab in the village of Dahariya and shot a Palestinian in the village.


Central Command chief Gadi Shamni said that "this is an event which contradicts the core values and norms according to which the IDF operates."


Shamni received the findings of an inquiry into the incident several days ago and decided to censure the officials involved. The Kfir Brigade commander was reprimanded over failures in training, supervision and reinforcement. The battalion commander, who took office three weeks before the incident took place, was reprimanded over his failure to spot professional problems on the operational level.


The outgoing battalion commander was censured over his responsibility for the norms rooted in the battalion. The company commander is held in custody and is being probed by the Military Police. The five soldiers involved in the incident are under investigation by the Military Police.


According to Shamni, "This is an important inquiry which relates to significant issues on the moral and normative levels. Such an incident does not characterize the activity of the Lavi Battalion fighters and the thousands of fighters and commanders in their daily activities for the security Israeli citizens.


"This is a very bad event both in terms of the result and in terms of the conduct. It is an unusual event and it is our duty as commanders to ensure that such incidents do not take place again."


IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi also noted that this was a severe incident which contradicted the IDF's values and the norms according to which it operated. The army chief addressed the issue during a meeting with the General Staff and said that all IDF soldiers must learn the lessons.


Troops stole cab, decided to carry out raid

The shooting incident, which occurred last Thursday in the village of Dahariya, south of Mount Hebron in the West Bank, at first appeared to be a common security incident.


According to the investigation, an IDF force arrived at the village by helicopter and was supposed to patrol the area. At a certain stage the commander arrived, and without authorization, decided to steal a Palestinian taxi and carry out a raid in the village.


Soldiers stopped a taxi at random, told its passengers to get out and tied up and blindfolded the driver. Two of the soldiers who were in civilian clothing stayed with the cab driver, while the others hid themselves inside the hijacked vehicle.


After a short ride in Dahariya they apparently realized their actions were illegal and started heading back. At a certain point a Palestinian carrying a shovel neared the vehicle and the troops called to him to stop. When the man failed to stop, the commander, apparently feeling threatened, ordered the soldiers to open fire. After wounding him, they left him bleeding on the street and fled the scene on foot.


The Palestinian victim was hospitalized at the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba in critical condition.


When the Military Police began probing the incident, the soldiers involved coordinated in fabricating an alternate version of events: They said one of the soldiers was wounded in the foot and they therefore stopped the cab; they also said they shot at the Palestinian because they mistook him for a fugitive.


Only after several hours of questioning did the platoon commander admit to the company commander that he had lied, and said he was willing to reveal the full truth regarding the incident.


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