No Charges Against IDF Soldier Who Killed 21-year-old Palestinian Bystander

Military Attorney General rules that Israeli soldier mistakenly shot 21-year-old Lubna Hanash last year while firing at terrorists.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Palestinian women mourn during the funeral of Lubna Hanash in the West Bank town of Bethlehem January 23, 2013.
Palestinian women mourn during the funeral of Lubna Hanash in the West Bank town of Bethlehem January 23, 2013.Credit: Reuters
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

No charges will be filed in the death of a 21-year-old Bethlehem woman, Lubna Hanash, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces in January 2013. In a statement, the office of the Military Advocate General said the Israel Defense Forces’ investigation into the incident did not point to negligence or other criminal conduct by any of the soldiers involved.

The incident took place on January 23, 2013, near the Al-Aroub refugee camp in Bethlehem, as Lt. Col. Shahar Safda, deputy commander of the Judea Regional Brigade, was being driven along Route 60 by his driver. According to IDF records, at around 1:40 P.M. the two men saw a group of young Palestinians standing by the side of the road, around 100 meters north of the refugee camp’s “pillbox” watchtower, throwing fire bombs at passing cars.

The subsequent Military Police investigation of the incident determined that Safda ordered his driver to stop the car, and then got out and chased the suspects while firing into the air. The driver, who remained with the car, fired in the direction of one of the teens. Hanash was walking nearby with a female relative, Souad Hanash. Both women were shot, Lubna in the head and Souad in the hand. They were taken to a Hebron hospital, where Lubna died of her wounds about one hour later.

“The rules of engagement allow firing at terrorists immediately after an attack, including an attack with fire bombs,” the MAG statement said by way of explaining the decision to close the investigation. It went on to say that the use of fire did not violate these guidelines. “Unfortunately, the deceased, who stood near the escape route of the terrorists, was hit.”

According to the statement, no military personnel were charged in connection to Hanash’s death because “it seems that the shooter did not notice the deceased while he was firing.”

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