The Jerusalem District Police's investigation into the shooting incident that killed a Palestinian near the West Bank village of Qusra last week is still ongoing, but sources close to the investigation said Thursday findings so far point to the shooter acting in self defense.
The shooter, a father who accompanied a children's bar mitzvah that passed near the village, discharged almost an entire clip of his weapon when his group was attacked by Palestinians who threw stones at them. The father's shots hit, and later killed, Mahmoud Odeh.
The police sources said they were taking the investigation extremely seriously and explained they will take all necessary measures to ascertain the exact circumstances of the deadly shooting.
"All involved have already been interrogated or will be in the future," the sources said. Speaking about the shooter, suspected of involuntary manslaughter, they said, "We realize their lives were in danger. The father emptied almost an entire clip in self defense."
The father accompanied the young boys through an area he knew well, the sources said, adding the group was attacked from above with rocks when they reached a point below the Palestinian village.
The parents and children could not see who was throwing the stones at them, said the sources, and therefore decided to leave the children in a cave with one of the parents supervising them.
The person accompanying the hike gave his weapon to the parent who remained with the children in the cave and tried to scare off the Palestinian rioters. The father claimed during his interrogation that he fired several shots in the air, which evidently hit Qusra resident Odeh. He also attempted to reach higher ground above the cave to guard the boys, but was hit on the head with a rock and fell down.
The father contacted the sector's brigade commander
The father then again resumed firing in the air, he told investigators, in order to keep back the mob. While the event was ongoing, several parents attempted to contact the Samaria emergency call center and notified them of what was transpiring.
Realizing the event was escalating, the father directly contacted the sector's brigade commander, who rushed to the scene in his vehicle. Cooler heads prevailed once army forces began arriving to the scene and the group was extracted.
Head of the Shomron Regional Council Yossi Dagan then arrived as well, at the behest of the father who called him for assistance in pressing charges.
The father has been questioned under caution once since the incident, but has maintained in constant communication with police investigators. He reconstructed the events on the scene with the brigade commander and is expected to do the same with police in the coming days.
Investigators may also collect testimony from the children who attended the hike. Regardless, the father is expected to be questioned again by police, notwithstanding the preliminary conclusion the shooting was indeed justified as both the adults' and children's lives were at real risk.
The Honenu legal defense organization, which represents the father, demanded the creation of a special investigative team to find the Palestinian rioters and prosecute them.
Pursuant to the same effort, security forces arrested 20 Qusra residents overnight on suspicion of attacking the Israeli hikers in last week's incident and participating in violent disturbances over the past few days.