The Israeli suspected of shooting dead a Palestinian near the West Bank village of Qusra while accompanying 13-year-old hikers was interrogated Friday on suspicions of negligent homicide.
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The Israeli police in the West Bank said the suspicions were at a very preliminary stage, adding that they had questioned the other parent on the trip, who was also carrying a gun.
The two parents were lightly injured in the incident in which, according to witnesses and sources close to the investigation, a group of Palestinians first surrounded the 20 youths and threw stones at them.
According to the witnesses, the incident began midday Thursday. One of the parents took the children to a nearby cave, where they hid until the army arrived.
The victim is 48-year-old Mahmoud Odeh from Qusra. Villagers said he had not thrown stones and was merely working his land nearby.
According to a preliminary investigation by the army, the parent fired out of self-defense. The two parents were injured by stones and were briefly hospitalized before being released Thursday.
Attorney Adi Keidar of the Honenu legal aid group is representing the two parents. As he put it, the decision to investigate the victims of “an attempted murder and lynching” is objectionable.
“The children were saved only because of the resourcefulness of the adults, who saved them from certain death,” Keidar said. “Instead of pursuing and arresting the terrorists who perpetrated this awful deed, the police are showing the enemy on which side they stand, thus weakening the Jewish people.”
On Friday, the Adalah rights group appealed to the High Court petitions department at the State Prosecutor’s Office, requesting the return of Odeh’s body so he could be buried quickly. Adalah is representing Odeh’s brother Mohammed.
Attorney Mona Hadad from Adalah said the army took the body to a nearby base and only after four hours did the army tell the family that the body had been moved to the Abu Kabir forensic institute in Jaffa for an autopsy. Hadad said this was done without the family’s knowledge or consent.
Right after the incident, the suspect said he had fired into the air. People who talked to him later said he did not realize he had shot someone.
The only known witness to Odeh’s death so far is his 6-year-old son. The army said immediately after the incident that the shooting was done in self-defense, but a police source said it was unclear on what basis this statement was made. The army has not given details on why it claimed the shooting was done in self-defense.
In Qusra on Thursday evening settlers clashed with villagers, who said settlers threw stones at them. The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that six Palestinians were injured in these clashes. One soldier was lightly injured in the clashes, apparently by a Molotov cocktail, army sources say.