IDF: Settlers opened fire in Palestinian village due to fear for lives
Joint army and police probe into death of 38-year-old Palestinian father of four question why settlement security team entered al-Mughayer on grounds of purported fear of a kidnap, when the young settler involved managed to flee his assailants.
An initial IDF investigation into the killing of a Palestinian during clashes at a West Bank village in January found that the members of an Israeli settlement emergency response unit opened fire during the incident as they feared for their lives.
The incident began when a young settler reported that Palestinians attempted to drag him from the Adei Ad settlement into the adjacent Paletinian village of al-Mughayer and stabbed him in the arm. The youth managed to flee and reported the incident to the response unit, which then entered the Palestinian village. They later told the IDF investigators that they had done so because they feared a kidnapping.
However, the investigation criticized the response unit for deciding to enter the village even though the wounded youth had returned to the settlement.
The IDF investigation showed that upon the arrival of the settlers in the village, dozens of Palestinians began gathering around them. As the incident developed, members of the emergency response unit opened fire, as they felt their lives were in danger.
Shortly thereafter, IDF troops arrived at the scene and also opened fire in order to disperse the crowd. At this point, Hamdi Nassan, a 38-year-old father of four, was shot dead. Nine other Palestinians and a settler were wounded in the incident.
Despite an initial claim that they had not opened fire, the investigation indicated that the IDF soldiers at the scene began shooting after realizing the emergency response unit members were in imminent danger.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in a statement that, "The military's Criminal Investigation Division and the Israel Police have launched a joint investigation into the incident. At this stage we cannot go into the details."
The emergency response unit said its members had behaved correctly, and expected them to be exonerated at the end of the investigation.
"The force on the ground acted professionally, as would be expected from every security officer in situations of clear and immediate danger to human lives," the unit said in a statement. "We are confident that those involved will earn the public's respect for their performance during the incident after the investigation's final findings are presented."