Israel Defense Forces shot and killed an Israeli early Friday in the southern Hebron region of the West Bank, when the man driving a vehicle did not notice a checkpoint and passed through without stopping. The soldiers involved in the incident said the shooting was accidental.
Initial reports suggest that the incident, which took place just after 5 am, occurred after IDF soldiers erected a makeshift checkpoint between Yatta and Hebron, after receiving reports of a suspicious truck leaving one of the settlements in the area.
IDF forces attempted to flag down and stop the vehicle. When the vehicle showed no signs of slowing down, IDF forces opened fire, killing 55-year-old Dan Mertzbach, a rabbi and resident of Otniel, and wounding two other passengers.
Moments later, a Palestinian truck struck one of IDF soldier who fired the shots, and was standing by the side of the road near the scene of the shooting. The soldier suffered light to moderate injuries.
The passengers were evacuated to Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem in Jerusalem.
GOC Central Command Avi Mizrachi said that an investigation would be opened into the incident.
A Central Command representative told reporters, “at 5.30 A.M. an IDF observation post in Beit Hagai spotted a suspicious vehicle. IDF forces came out of the observation tower, but did not manage to set up a checkpoint in time, and so they signaled to the vehicle to stop. The vehicle did not stop and an IDF soldier fired eight shots at it. The vehicle got stuck on the side of the road. The soldier who fired the shots ran towards the vehicle and was run over by a Palestinian truck. The incident is currently under investigation, we will investigate why the soldiers opened fire, because according to instructions on opening fire, soldiers are not supposed to shoot at a moving vehicle.”
Mertzbach is to be laid to rest later Friday in Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives cemetery following a short ceremony in Otniel.
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