The security coordinator of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar shot and wounded a Palestinian man last month even though army officers at the scene saw no reason to open fire, soldiers and officers said.
The man carried a knife but posed no danger, they said. He suffered moderate injuries.
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In an internal investigation conducted by the battalion, officers criticized the coordinator’s behavior, saying that had he not opened fire, no one would have been hurt in the incident.
The coordinator declined to comment, saying the incident is being investigated by both the Israel Defense Forces and the police. But people close to him said the soldiers’ version of events is wrong.
Although police have questioned the coordinator, the Shin Bet security service is in charge of the investigation.
The incident occurred before dawn on June 25, when an IDF lookout saw a man approach Yitzhar. The soldiers and commander of the reservist battalion stationed at the site ordered him to halt, but did not shoot because they didn’t think the situation was out of control.
Then, they said, the security coordinator drove up, got out of his car and shot the Palestinian, hitting him twice.
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The soldiers said that when they first came to the area, senior officers in the brigade had briefed them on a growing problem in the West Bank – Palestinians who show up with knives with the goal of being arrested or killed because this will entitle their families to financial compensation from the Palestinian Authority.
The soldiers were told that if there’s any danger to their own lives or to civilians, they can shoot the suspects, but if it’s possible to end the incident without opening fire, then they should simply arrest them. The officer in charge at the scene is responsible for deciding which course to take.
Immediately after the incident, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that the suspect was seen approaching Yitzhar, and when the settlement’s security officer arrived, he noticed that the suspect was armed with a knife. Therefore, “he began the procedure for arresting a suspect, which includes firing at his lower body. An IDF force was quickly sent to the site. There were no casualties to our forces, and the terrorist was neutralized.”
But soldiers said this statement didn’t accurately describe the coordinator’s behavior.
“The soldiers were already there,” one said. “The security coordinator arrived afterward and simply opened fire of his own initiative.”