IDF Releases Mentally Disabled Palestinian Miles From Home, Relative Says

20-year-old man was part of small group detained for coming too close to an ammunition bunker at an army base in Jordan Valley, military says.

The Israel Defense Forces detained a mentally disabled Palestinian in the Jordan Valley on Monday and dropped him off kilometers from home, a relative said.

The young man was missing for hours before Palestinian police found him.

IDF troops arava AP 18811

Early in the day, two members of the Saliman family from the village of Al Hadida went out to herd sheep near the Ro'i settlement. They were accompanied by the mentally disabled man, a 20-year-old who cannot speak and is also physically handicapped.

Israeli soldiers approached in a jeep and told the Palestinians they could not remain in the area. The three boarded the vehicle, which headed toward the valley's main road. The three were not interrogated; the soldiers left each in a different location.

According to one family member, who gave his name as Riyad, the mentally disabled man was left several kilometers from home. He could not explain his plight to anyone he met.

In the afternoon, his relatives grew worried and contacted the IDF Civil Administration. Soldiers and Palestinian police combed the area. At 10 P.M., 10 hours after leaving the jeep, the Palestinian was found by PA police wandering near the Ain Bidan wells.

He was taken to the PA police station in Nablus and identified as one of the three young men who had been detained.

According to the IDF Spokesman's Office, "In the morning, two Palestinians were spotted near an ammunition bunker at an army base in the Jordan Valley. To protect the Palestinians, the two were led away from the area. At their own request, the two were dropped off near the junction where they said they lived."

The spokesman later clarified: "It should be stressed that the two Palestinians were never separated; since the dialogue was held with just one of them, the soldiers had no way of knowing that the second was mentally disabled."