Officer entered A territories despite warning sign
Senior Central Command officials define entry of IDF major into Jenin as 'extremely serious incident'. Officer, who took wrong turn on his way to northern West Bank, rescued by Palestinian police officers after being attacked by mob. 'He owes his life to those officers,' IDF officials say
Talking to Ynet on Monday evening, senior Central Command officials said that "the officer owes his life to the Palestinian security organizations."
An initial investigation launched into the incident revealed that carelessness was what led to the officer's entry into Jenin.
The officer, a major serving in the army's Central Command, had crossed an IDF roadblock in Shavei Shomron on his way to the West Bank city, but the soldiers did not try to stop him because they thought he was headed to the settlement of Mevo Dotan.
However, instead of turning left toward the settlement, the major continued north toward Jenin. According to IDF sources, a big sign situated at the junction warns drivers that the area before them is an A territory prohibited for entry, but for some reason the officer did not notice the sign.
The investigation also revealed that the officer did not follow procedures, as he was traveling alone in a vehicle with an Israeli license plate rather than in a convoy of cars.
The senior Central Command officials said defined the incident as "extremely severe". According to them, what happened in Jenin served as proof that the cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security forces had been reinforced recently.
Diplomatic officials also expressed their satisfaction over the conduct of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni thanked Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for the Palestinian police's help in rescuing the IDF officer.
This activity proves that the Palestinians government and its forces in the face of terror, trying to sabotage the joint efforts of the moderate elements in Israel and the PA and lead to an improvement in the security situation," Livni told Fayyad during their meeting Monday evening.
Local residents attacks officer's car (Photo: AFP)
The Jenin incident took place Monday afternoon, when local Palestinian residents who noticed the officer driving into the city hurled rocks at his car, forced him out and began beating him.
A Palestinian policeman spotted the angry mob and called for backup. The security officers struggled to reach the battered officer and several shots were apparently fired before they managed to extract him from the crowd moments before his vehicle was set aflame.
The officer was then taken to the Jenin Muqataa compound to contact the IDF and afterwards to the Jalame security crossing north of Jenin and into Israel.
The officer was not in need of medical attention and was later taken for questioning. He said was driving without a firearm but the matter is being investigated as the Palestinian police said they confiscated the major's weapon.
Shortly after the incident, the Islamic Jihad angrily accused the PA Preventive Security forces of thwarting an attempt by the organization to kidnap the officer in the heart of Jenin.
"After taking control of the officer our fighters were surprised to see the Preventive Security closing in on them and taking the uniformed soldier. Within minutes four Israeli military jeeps arrived and the Israelis were given the officer by the Preventive Security.
"The Palestinian security forces must defend our fighters and the Palestinian people from the weapons of the occupation, not defend the soldiers of the occupation from the weapons of the resistance," said the group in a statement issued later in the afternoon.
Ronny Sofer contributed to this report