Palestinian Killed in Stone-throwing Incident Near Major Highway Was a Bystander, IDF Says

A preliminary investigation finds the slain 15-year-old was not involved in stone-throwing which wounded three people. Soldiers responding to the incident grabbed two suspects and also erroneously fired a weapon.

Amos Harel
Jack Khoury
Gili Cohen
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
The scene of the stone-throwing incident near Israel's Route 443.
The scene of the stone-throwing incident near Israel's Route 443, June 21, 2016.Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Amos Harel
Jack Khoury
Gili Cohen

A 15-year-old Palestinian boy killed early on Tuesday by IDF gunfire on Route 443 was shot while traveling with family and was not involved in any stone throwing incidents  there, a preliminary IDF investigation has found.

The probe has found that the teen was killed by mistake.

At around 1 A.M. on Tuesday a firebomb and rocks were thrown and oil was spilled onto the highway which runs between Jerusalem and Modi'in. An Israeli bus passenger and two tourists in another vehicle were injured in the incident which occurred near the village of Beit Sira.

An officer and group of soldiers from the Kfir Brigade responding to the incident  spotted the injured people, chased after the stone throwers and fired accidentally at a car, killing the Palestinian teen, investigators found.

The scene of the stone-throwing incident near Israel's Route 443, June 21, 2016.Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

The IDF said that a group of Palestinians tried to disrupt traffic by throwing rocks and firebombs at passing cars, significantly damaging a vehicle and wounding three passengers. Two suspects were arrested.

The IDF spokesperson's office said that "in the course of gunfire to remove a threat, uninvolved people near the scene of the incident were accidentally hit."

The Palestinian Authority has identified the slain teen as Rafat Badran, from the village of Beit-Uhr-Eh-Tahta, west of Ramallah. Three other Palestinians wounded in the incident were treated at a medical center in Ramallah, and a fourth wounded person was taken to Israel for treatment. Sources in the village said two of the wounded are brothers.

Badran's father said his son had gone to a swimming pool in Beit Sira with cousins and another relative visiting from Qatar.

"They left in the evening after breaking the fast, and stayed at the pool until after midnight. My sister rented a car to take them home, so they were in two vehicles heading back to Beit-Ur-Eh-Tahta," Badran said.

Badran said that in order to reach the village you have to take an underpass beneath Highway 443.

"As they approached the passage, a car stood on the bridge, next to a man with a gun who opened fire on the vehicle. As far as I could understand, some of the passengers jumped out of the vehicle and some remained inside, and were hit, including my son who was very seriously wounded and died a short time later."

"This was indiscriminate gunfire with the intent to kill and I demand that this incident be judged by the World court," Badran said.

The family doesn't know as yet when the remains of their son will be returned to them so that he may be buried.

Abed Qassem, the head of Beit Uhr Eh Tahta's local council, told Haaretz that the Palestinians who were shot were not involved in the stone-thowing. "Israel is trying to mislead public opinion and make everyone think that these youths threw stones, and that isn't true," he said.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry issued an angry statement, and  called on human rights organizations to send details of the shooting to the World Court "to get at the murderers."

"The conduct of Netanyahu's government and the crimes it commits are solid proof that  it's a government adheres to a policy of occupation. The repression and aggression of the Palestinian people is far from any diplomatic horizon intended to end the conflict with the Palestinians in a peaceful way," the ministry said.

The statement went on to say that: "The incident proves that Neanyahu's government is a government of extremist settlers conducting a daily policy of terrorism against the Palestinian people."