West Bank(Reuters): An Israeli army jeep struck and killed a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, with the military and locals giving conflicting accounts of the circumstances.
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A military spokeswoman said the jeep, which was in the village of Qafr Malik as part of an operation to arrest suspected militants, accidentally hit the Palestinian after he threw a petrol bomb at it. “The driver was startled and swerved, hitting the man,” she said, adding that a military investigation would be launched.
Local resident Nail Abdul Latah el Hajj denied the Palestinian had attacked the jeep, saying the man was walking to work at a chicken farm when he was run down and then crushed as the vehicle crashed into a wall and overturned.
Speaking to Reuters, el Hajj said the man’s death sparked confrontations between stone-throwing Palestinian youths and Israeli troops. The military spokeswoman said the disturbances were already under way when the collision happened.
In a separate incident, soldiers who were filmed beating an unarmed Palestinian during a protest in a West Bank refugee camp on Friday were disciplined for actions which the Israeli Defence Forces said were “inconsistent with the expected conduct of IDF soldiers”.
A video posted on social media showed the Palestinian being hit with a rifle butt and wrestled to the ground, where he was punched further and a soldier’s knee was pressed against his head. He was then handcuffed and taken away.
A statement from the Israeli army said that during the protest, the man attempted to grasp a soldier’s weapon, which led to an altercation. “Following the incident the (senior commanding officer responsible) concluded that, while the arrest was justified, the means were inappropriate,” the statement said.
It said that of the four soldiers involved, two received a suspended 28-day prison sentence and two others were confined to base for 30 days. Their company commander received an official reprimand.
Israeli forces regularly mount raids in the West Bank in search of suspected militants, often touching off clashes with local residents. On Wednesday, Israeli soldiers shot dead a member of the Islamist militant group Hamas in the town of Jenin in one such operation.