The IDF Judge Advocate General decided Sunday to close the case against the soldier who accidently killed Rabbi Dan Martzbach, 55, of the West Bank settlement of Otniel, at a checkpoint near Mount Hebron in November 2011.
The solider, who has since finished his service, was cleared of any wrongdoing in the case. Both he and the other soldiers who witnessed the shooting maintained that he followed the rules of engagement – an assertion the military's 15-month-long investigation found to be true.
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The soldier was removed from field duty following the incident and the pending investigation, but he insisted on returning to his unit as a reservist.
The incident took place November 11, 2011, on Route 60 at around 5:30 am, as Martzbach's vehicle was approaching the checkpoint at high speed.
IDF soldiers stationed at the checkpoint motioned the car to stop, but for some reason Martzbach's failed to comply. Suspecting that the vehicle was about to ram the checkpoint, thus placing the troops in clear and immediate danger, the soldier opened fire.
The scene (Photo: Noam Moskowitz)
Emergency service were scrambled to the area, but Martzbach had sustained a fatal head injury and was pronounced dead on the scene.
The military found that about one hour prior to the incident, troops stationed in the sector were placed in alert following intelligence indicating that a terror cell operating in the area will attempt to target one of the checkpoints.
The checkpoint in which the shooting took place was itself the scene of several past attacks.
Investigators also found that the rabbi's vehicle sustained seven shots, indicating that it was highly likely that the soldier in question was not the only one to open fire.
Attorney Rami Bublil, for the soldier, told Ynet that "He followed orders and performed his duties according to his training and military protocols. After a lengthy examination of the evidence, JAG cleared him of any wrongdoing. We are all greatly saddened by Rabbi Martzbach's death."
The IDF offered the following statement: "The circumstances of Rabbi Martzbach's death were investigated by the Military Police and their results were referred to the Judge Advocate General for review.
"After extensive examination JAG decided not to take legal action against anyone involved in the incident. The decision was based on the evidence, which clearly indicated that the soldiers felt their lives were in danger."
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