A Palestinian who threw stones at a group of Israeli hikers near the West Bank village of Qusra last month has been charged with attempted murder.
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The indictment against Mohammed Wadi, filed in an Israeli military court on Monday, accuses Wadi of entering a cave where 20 children and one adult had taken shelter and throwing large rocks at them from close range. “Some of the rocks were thrown at the adult’s head, wounding him,” a statement from the Israel Defense Forces Spokesman’s Office said. The military prosecutor has asked that Wadi be held without bail.
Other indictments are expected to follow. Two weeks ago, 19 other Palestinians were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the incident. The IDF statement said that some of those arrested are suspected of incitement to terrorism.
The incident occurred late last month, when the children, accompanied by two adults, were on a bar-mitzvah hike near the Palestinian village. One of the adults, a reserve army officer, shot and killed a Palestinian, Mahmoud Odeh, in the course of the incident. An Israeli military investigation concluded that the Israeli opened fire in an effort to drive the assailants away and only after the Palestinians attacked. But the Palestinians claim the shooting occurred first and that the attack was a response to it.
The Israel Police in the West Bank have been investigating the shooter on suspicion of negligent homicide, but are leaning toward accepting his claim that he fired in self-defense. Immediately after the incident, the shooter said he thought he had fired in the air, and people who spoke with him afterwards said he hadn’t realized that he had hit anyone.