Soldier Killed Near Hebron Hit by IDF Bullet, Palestinian Car

Unclear whether Staff Sgt. Eyal died from Palestinian cab's impact or gunshot wound to head.

The Israel Defense Forces said Tuesday that a reserve soldier killed Monday night at a roadblock near Hebron was hit both by a vehicle driven by a Palestinian taxi driver and a bullet from a gun belonging to one of his comrades.

An investigation showed that Staff Sergeant Tziki Eyal, 23, from Mazkeret Batya, had been struck in the head by an IDF bullet, although it is not clear whether he died from the gunshot wound or from being hit by the car.

The IDF is still investigating whether the driver, 30-year-old Iyad Dwek, had intended to kill Eyal or whether it was an accident.

Dwek was shot dead by other IDF soldiers at the roadblock. A preliminary investigation revealed that he had no ties to terror organizations, and no weapons were found in his car.

Prior to the incident, there had been no Israeli deaths in the territories for three months.

The incident took place close to 10 P.M. Monday night, at the Halhoul bridge. An armored corps unit on reserve duty put up a surprise roadblock on the bridge, which is used by Palestinian traffic. The roadblock was set up after soldiers at the nearby "pillbox" position reported hearing shots. The soldiers' intention was to identify the men who had opened fire.

The road below the bridge is used by settlers.

The reservists at the roadblock reported that the taxi was seen approaching, and a soldier stepped out to flag down the driver, who was alone, for inspection.

At first the driver slowed, but suddenly sped up and drove straight at the soldier, running him over and critically injuring him. The other soldiers then opened fire at the driver, who died instantly. An ambulance crew called to the site was unable to save the injured soldier.

The IDF has been on high alert in the vicinity of Hebron because thousands of Jews had been expected to visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs on Tuesday.

The IDF sent reinforcements to the area and together with the Shin Bet security force immediately began checking the background of the driver to establish whether it was likely that he had been involved in a terrorist act, as appeared from the incident.

They are also investigating other possibilities, such as that the driver did not see the soldiers in the dark, or was trying to avoid being checked for other reasons.