Police: Fatal West Bank crash caused by rock throwing
Police originally suspect accident caused by the driver, Kiryat Arba resident Asher Palmer, taking turn too fast.
The police and army traded accusations on Sunday over who was responsible for issuing a statement attributing the accident in which a man and his infant son were killed near Kiryat Arba on Friday to excessive speed. Police later said the car that Kiryat Arba resident Asher Palmer was driving rolled over after Palestinians threw rocks at the vehicle.
Palmer, 25, was en route to Jerusalem with his 1-year-old son to pick up his wife, a hospital nurse. Soldiers later found the bodies of Palmer and his infant son inside the family's battered car, on the shoulder of Route 60, close to Hebron.
About 20 minutes after the car was found the Israel Defense Forces Spokesman's Office informed media outlets that soldiers stationed nearby had not seen any stone-throwing and that the incident was merely a road accident.
That in itself was unusual, as the army doesn't usually investigate road accidents.
That evening the Israel Police announced that the car had flipped over after taking a turn too quickly. Yet initial findings at the site of the accident did not support this conclusion.
While the car did flip over while on a curve there were no skid marks on the road to indicate braking, which would be characteristic in such an accident.
Three rocks were found in the car, and one had blood on it. Palmer's pistol had been removed from the car.
The steering wheel bore signs of having been hit by a rock, and Palmer's face had a wound that would not normally ensue from an overturned car.
Police had created a special task force to investigate 18 previous incidents of stone-throwing at cars in that area, so such attacks were clearly not uncommon.
Later Friday evening, police reviewed the incident with Col. Guy Hazut, commander of the IDF's Hebron Brigade, and concluded that the Palmers were probably killed in a terror attack.
By Saturday morning, that seemed certain, so Saturday night, police sought a court order for an autopsy.
At the hearing, a police representative claimed police investigators had initially suspected terror attack, citing the car's smashed windshield and the rocks found in the car.
The judge refused to order an autopsy of the bodies. Police said a gash on Asher Palmer's face could have been caused by a rock thrown from a passing vehicle.
Investigators believe that he lost control of the vehicle as a result, causing his car to run off the road, hit a wall and overturn.
On Sunday afternoon, when the minutes of the court proceedings were published, the police and the army issued a statement admitting that the incident was probably a terror attack.
Police officers said the army gave too much weight to the statements of the soldiers who found the car, while the army said it merely reported the soldiers' statements and that it was the Israel Police that invented the speeding claim.
At a meeting with GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi on sunday, settlers were furious. "There's no other way to say this: The IDF didn't tell the truth," said Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha Council of settlements.
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