The state has closed the case against two settlers from the northern West Bank, one of whom shot a Palestinian from Qusra to death during an attack on hikers near the village in November, after it was determined that they fired in self defense.
The investigation showed that the dead man, Mohammed Odeh, 48, was involved in throwing stones at the hikers, who were mostly children on a bar mitzvah trip. The Palestinians claimed after the incident that Odeh was merely working the farmland he owned in the area, and that he was shot before the group was attacked. Two adults in their 40s were lightly hurt by the stone-throwers, after the children found refuge in a cave.
According to the prosecutors, “The shooting took place when the attackers stood on the upper part of the slope and threw stones down. The claim of a warning shot could be reconciled with the injury to the deceased, who was throwing stones from above them. Another corroboration of the suspect’s story can be found in the testimony of one of the Qusra residents, who testified that the suspects fired in self defense only after stones were thrown at them.”
The army investigation determined that the direct cause of the incident was the Palestinians’ attempt to harm the settlers. Nevertheless, the army criticized the settlers, saying, “Other causes of the incident included setting out on a hike without coordinating [with the security forces], although there was a request made that got no response. As a result, the procedure for coordinating hikes was clarified.”
In January, Military Appeals Court Judge Lt. Col. Ronen Atzmon ordered one of the central suspects in the attack on the settlers released and criticized the investigation of the Judea and Samaria District police. The judge said the indictment filed against the Palestinian suspect was based on faulty identification, and the investigation methods used “had the power to mislead the complainant and cause him to mistakenly identify the defendant.” According to Atzmon, “The prosecutor did not deny that there were defects in the investigation.”