Settlers Interrogated Over Suspected Involvement in Killing of Palestinian

Despite differing accounts of the lethal January shooting incident, the army suspects a settler killed Hamdi Taleb Na'asan

Relatives of Palestinian Hamdi Na'asan react as his body is brought into a hospital morgue, Ramallah, West Bank, January 26, 2019.
Mohamad Torokman/Reuters

Two local security officers from Israeli settlements in the West Bank were questioned under caution on Sunday over their suspected involvement in a shooting death of a Palestinian man in January.

The military police, which is leading the investigation, suspects a settler shot Hamdi Taleb Na'asan during an altercation with Palestinian residents of the village of Al-Mughayyir, south of Nablus, but had thus far refrained from naming any suspects.

Settlers, soldiers and Palestinians have given divergent accounts of the incident. The Israeli military police had thus far questioned members of the outpost's security squad and soldiers as witnesses, rather than as suspects. 

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Both suspects were present when the members of the neighboring Adei Ad outpost's security squad rushed to Na'asan's village following reports of an attack and said stones were thrown at them by Palestinians.

File photo: Undated photo of Hamdi Taleb Na'asan, Palestinian resident of Al-Mughayyir who was shot dead in clashes with Israeli settlers and soldiers on January 26, 2019.

Adei Ad residents said the civilian emergency responders rushed toward the village when a youth from the outpost was stabbed on a nearby hill by Palestinians they said tried to kidnap him. The army said troops arrived at the scene after a confrontation erupted between the sides.

The Israel Defense Forces had been skeptical of the stabbing account. An IDF statement issued the day of the incident said "physical confrontation developed between a number of Palestinians and a settler near Adei Ad, during the course of which a civilian was slightly injured and didn't require evacuation" for medical treatment, referring to the youth who claimed to had been stabbed.

The Palestinians said, however, that the confrontation began after gunshots were fired at them by settlers and soldiers, killing Na'asan and wounding 10 other Palestinians. The Israeli army have denied that any soldiers opened fire at the site. The Palestinian account doesn't explain how the settler youth was hurt.

Al-Mughayyir residents said they were shot as they were fleeing and therefore Na'asan was shot in the back. "We don’t know exactly who was hit by settler fire and who was hit by the soldiers' fire, but without a doubt there were casualties as a result of the settlers' shooting, who attacked homes without any reason," the village council head said.