Tragic accident results in the death of one person: IDF soldiers stationed near Hebron noticed a suspicious Israeli vehicle approaching them and motioned it to stop early Friday morning.
As the driver failed to comply and suspecting he was planning to commit a terror attack by running them over, the soldiers opened fire at the vehicle.
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Minutes later they learned their assumption had been wrong. The firing resulted in the death of 55-year-old Otniel resident Rabbi Dan Martzbach. He sustained a head injury and was pronounced dead on the spot.
Born in France, Martzbach lost his parents in a car accident 30 years ago. He was survived by a wife, five children and 10 grandchildren. A professional architect, Martzbach served as a rabbi for Tene Omarim, Shima and Eshkolot. He was was buried in the Mount of Olives on Friday.
Two other residents of Otniel who were in the vehicle were wounded - one woman aged 50 sustained mild wounds and another person sustained light wounds. They were driving to pray at the Cave of Patriarchs.
The woman, who was shot in the hip, was taken to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center and was discharged shortly thereafter.
Car was heading to Cave of Patriarchs (Photo: Judea and Samaria Rescue Forces)
Magen David Adom teams also treated a soldier who was lightly hurt by a truck passing by. He was taken to hospital.
Martzbach was driving with his lights off and apparently didn't notice the soldiers who urged him to stop.
Victim's vehicle (Photo: Judea and Samaria Rescue Forces)
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said that a car in the Beit Hagai area was spotted driving in a suspicious manner at around 5:30 am. As a result the IDF set up a roadblock in a junction south of Hebron.
A force stationed in the junction noticed the vehicle which was speeding towards it and called the driver to stop. The driver failed to comply and one of the soldiers, who feared for his life, opened fire at the vehicle, apparently firing eight shots. As a result, the car swerved to the side of the road where it stopped.
A Palestinian truck driving by at the same time ran over the soldier who had fired the shots, who was crossing the road.
The truck continued to drive on. IDF forces are working to trace the truck, which apparently belongs to a Palestinian man. This was apparently not an intentional hit.
Judea and Samaria rescue forces treated the wounded before Medical Corps and MDA teams arrived at the scene.
A military source said the Judea and Samaria Division commander launched an inquiry into the incident. "It is yet unclear why the soldiers decided to open fire. At that point they had still not managed to set up the roadblock," he said. He noted that several soldiers were killed at the same spot in the past.
Yoni Silman, an MDA paramedic said: "The victim suffered a head injury and was already dead when we arrived. We treated a few more victims, including a 45-year-old woman who was shot in the hip and sustained mild wounds."
South Mount Hebron Council head Tziviki Bar Hai said, "This was before dawn and apparently there was no eye contact between the soldiers and the victim."
Central Command chief Major-General Avi Mizrahi ordered an inquiry into the incident, which occurred near a sensitive stretch of road connecting south Hebron and Kfar Yatta. The location saw many past terror attacks and forces are regularly deployed there.
This is not the first time the Martzbach family has lost one of its loved-ones in a friendly fire incident. The rabbi's daughter's brother-in-law was killed by IDF fire in 2003.
Martzbach was one of the founders of the settlement of Otniel which was established 27 years ago in South Mount Hebron. It is home to 150 moderate-religious families.
Yoav Zitun and Omri Efraim contributed to this report
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