IDF probe suggests failures during fatal clashes with Palestinians
Two March incidents in which four Palestinians were shot by IDF could have been avoided, according to Central Command inquiry. 'Soldiers must distinguish between life threatening situations and those incidents where the use of common sense can resolve matters without casualties,' senior officer says
The inquiry, conducted by the IDF's Centeral Command, focused on two fatal incidents: A violent riot near Nablus in which 16-year-old Muhammad Qadus and 20-year-old Osaid Qadus were killed, and the shooting incident involving two Palestinians carrying a bottle and a syringe near an army checkpoint
The report suggests that despite the violent and dangerous circumstances, the incidents' end result could have been avoided. A senior IDF officer told Ynet that routine procedures have been reviewed again in light of the immense sensitivity of the situation in the West Bank and the attempt not to disrupt the delicate relations with the Palestinians.
"Senior commanders, as well as common soldiers, are expected to properly examine each situation and prevent in advance what may end badly."
Palestinian hurling stones at IDF troops in Iraq-Burin (Photo: AFP)
The first incident occurred during a violent riot held near the village of Iraq-Burin on March 20. Two young Palestinian men were killed, however the fatal objects used remain unclear. The IDF maintains that the soldiers used rubber bullets, whereas Palestinians assert live ammunition was employed.
The second incident occurred on the following day near the Awarta village when a soldier, feeling threatened, shot two Palestinians to death.
Evacuating victims (Photo: AFP)
The inquiry, conducted by the Shomron Brigade and the Judea and Samaria Division, did not succeed in resolving the differences between the two versions regarding the nature of the bullets used in the first incident. A team of experts failed to refute the IDF claim, despite an X-ray photo which allegedly shows a live bullet in the head of one of the victims.
The matter is still being investigated as part of a criminal inquiry. From the operational standpoint, failures were detected in the deployment of the forces ahead of the protest and the way in which an outflanking attempt was conducted, during which soldiers were forced to fire having been caught in a conflict with Palestinians hurling stones.
It was revealed that the maneuver caused soldiers to be trapped, forcing them to open fire. The inquiry suggests that since the protest was planned ahead of time the army could have prepared in advance in a way which would have reduced the level of violence and avoided the use of fire.
The report notes that in relation to the second incident, the manner in which the force handled the two Palestinians led to the fatal outcome. The force, which consisted of four soldiers, did not handcuff the Palestinians during questioning so as not to humiliate them, according to the squad commander. The soldiers turned their back on the suspects thus preventing them from aptly examining their behavior and creating a "security space."
Referring to the first incident, the inquiry determined that the lifting of a glass bottle on the part of the Palestinian can be construed as a threat and therefore rendered the soldier's shooting reasonable.
However, in relation to the second incident, the soldier was too quick in interpreting the situation as a threat and could have avoided the fatal outcome.
The IDF is fully aware of the danger of such incidents and is working to inform the Palestinian Authority of the findings of such probes.
Central Command officers admitted that the current period is particularly sensitive, with every military incident influencing the political rank. Over the past week the IDF has held conferences for commanders of the West Bank brigades stressing the importance of mindful action.
"Beyond the guidelines, commanders and soldiers need to realize and sense right away those situations where their lives are at risk and require resolute and uninhibited actions, from those situations which can be resolved in a way which won't result in casualties," the senior officer said.