Sharon Blasts IDF for Letting Druze Soldier Bleed to Death

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has criticized the Israel Defense Forces for its failure to rescue Madhat Yusuf, a Druze soldier who was shot in October 2000 at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus. Yusuf bled to death after languishing at the site for hours.

Sharon was speaking yesterday in the Knesset in response to a proposal by MK Ayoub Kara (Likud) to establish a state commission of inquiry to investigate the affair. The prime minister rejected Kara's proposal, arguing, "We don't need to drag the public from one commission to another."

However, Sharon stressed: "The terrible incident with Sgt. Madhat Yusuf was - to the best of my knowledge - improper, egregious and unreasonable, and in complete contradiction to the IDF's policy of not abandoning the wounded or dead in the field."

The prime minister continued: "The incident involving Yusuf should never have happened and there was no reason in the world for it to have occurred. There is no difference between a Jewish soldier and a Druze, Bedouin, Circassian or Arab Muslim."

Prior to the Knesset session, MK Kara convened a press conference at which he claimed that former prime minister Ehud Barak had paid NIS 50,000 to the chief of the Palestinian preventive security forces, Jibril Rajoub, so as to facilitate the evacuation of the Druze soldier after negotiating over the sum for six hours.

Kara claimed this information had come from two Border Patrol policemen who had received threats not to appear at the news conference, together with promises of permanent positions in the IDF if they kept quiet about what had really happened at Joseph's Tomb last year.

The Echpat non-profit organization also participated in the news conference and blamed IDF Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz for failing to give the order for a planned a rescue mission, thus leaving the soldier to bleed to death.