Israeli Officer Wounded in West Bank Likely Hit by Friendly Fire

Raid had apparently targeted senior Hamas operative in Jenin; unclear if suspected terrorist apprehended.

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A Palestinian man burns tires during clashes with Israeli security forces following an Israeli army raid in the West Bank city of Jenin to arrest an alleged Hamas member, early on September 1, 2015.
A Palestinian man burns tires during clashes with Israeli security forces following an Israeli army raid in the West Bank city of Jenin to arrest an alleged Hamas member, early on September 1, 2015.Credit: AFP

An Israeli arrest raid in the West Bank overnight Monday went awry when an officer was wounded by what appears to have been errant friendly fire, an initial army investigation has found.

The Special Police Unit launched an internal probe into the matter after one of its officers was moderately wounded during the Jenin operation, which the army said targeted a senior Hamas figure. The officer is currently in stable condition.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon confirmed the initial findings during a press conference on Tuesday.

The joint raid was conducted by the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet and the SPU, which is the Israel Police's elite counterterrorism unit. It was unclear if the target of the raid was arrested, but at least one Palestinian was detained in subsequent rioting.

Israeli army bulldozers demolish a Palestinian house during an Israeli raid in the West Bank city ofCredit: Reuters

After the officer was wounded, Israeli forces postponed using its “pressure cooker” procedure, in which either gunfire or anti-tank missiles are fired at the building where the wanted man is holed up. After the soldier was evacuated, the IDF moved forward with the procedure and destroyed the structure with a D9 bulldozer.

Intelligence information had indicated that the suspected Hamas man was in the structure, but the claim could not be confirmed. If the suspect was indeed inside the building, it is likely that he would have been killed during the demolition of the house.

The Jenin home of of Majdi Abu al-Hija and family, demolished by the Israeli military seeking a fugitive. Credit: AP

Palestinian witnesses, however said that the suspect – whom they identified as Majdi Abu Al-Hija – was arrested along with a number of his relatives during the raid.

Jenin Governor Ibrahim Ramadan said that the Israeli forces surrounded three houses in the camp, including one belonging to the Abu Al-Hija family.

According to acquaintances of the family, Majdi Abu Al-Hija had been a Hamas activist in the past and had even served time at an Israeli prison, but in recent years had been working for the municipality. The relatives said that he was arrested along with other family members, including his son and brother Alaa. According to one resident, the relatives were freed Tuesday morning, while Majdi remains in custody.

The defense establishment could not confirm the suspect's fate. Little to no details regarding his identity or alleged crimes have been published.

The incident prompted clashes between Palestinians and security forces in the Jenin area, and some 12 Palestinians were wounded in the subsequent riot. Forces say they were targeted with stones, firebombs, explosives and possibly live rounds.

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