Daily Israel Report

IDF Inquiry Clears Bekaot Soldiers in Two Incidents

Soldiers at checkpoint killed two Arabs in two incidents several days apart, and "prevented what could have been a deadly terrorist attack."
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 1/24/2011, 9:27 PM / Last Update: 1/24/2011, 9:56 PM

Flash 90

Central Command Head Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi has concluded the investigations of two incidents in which IDF soldiers were attacked at the Bekaot crossing east of Shechem, on January 2 and January 8. The incidents resulted in the deaths of two Arabs, Muhammad Dragma and Khaldoun Samoudi.

Maj.-Gen. Mizrahi emphasized that the soldiers at the scene acted in accordance with IDF protocol. In both incidents, it was clear that the Arabs intended to assault the soldiers at the crossing, and were in possession of deadly instruments and weapons.
 
On January 2, 2011, Mohammed Dragma attempted to attack the soldiers posted at the Bekaot crossing using a glass bottle.
 
The investigation shows that Mohammed Dragma arrived at the crossing in the early hours of the morning, and rapidly approached the soldiers through an unauthorized lane that is not intended for security inspection, while shouting in Arabic. The investigation also concluded that Dragma, who frequently used the crossing, was most likely aware that the lane he used was not authorized. Dragma ignored the repeated calls from the soldiers to halt. The commander of the crossing saw Dragma raise his hand holding a suspicious object, and fired in the direction of his lower body. When Dragma continued to approach the soldiers while shouting at them in Arabic, the commander felt they were faced with a real threat and so fired at Dragma for the second time. It was the second shot which resulted in his death.
 
Maj.-Gen. Mizrahi concluded that firing at Dragma was done out of the commander's sense of an immediate life-threatening danger, which was justified given the circumstances. The crossing commander only fired after carrying out preliminary steps that are intended to neutralize the attacker, and did all he could to avoid the use of gunfire.
 
There have been several previous incidents at the Bekaot crossing over the months in which the same IDF force manned the crossing. These incidents included an attempt to snatch a soldier's weapon and attempts to smuggle explosive devices through the crossing. These incidents added to the soldiers' feeling of being under threat during the most recent incident. The soldiers did not respond with fire in any of the previous occurrences.
 
On January 8, 2011, soldiers identified a Palestinian Authority taxi arriving at the crossing. Khaldoun Samoudi exited the taxi and ran in the soldiers' direction, while the rest of the passengers in the taxi fled the scene. Samoudi attempted to commit a terrorist attack using improvised explosive devices and a knife, charging at the soldiers while shouting "Allahu akbar". The soldiers, realizing that Samoudi was attempting to attack them, fired at him, resulting in his death.
 
The inquiry found that the soldiers used the appropriate rules of engagement, during which the commander of the force, having identified the suspect as holding what seemed to be a grenade, fired directly at him. After being hit, Samoudi dropped what was discovered to be an improvised explosive device. Searches at the scene revealed that Samoudi was carrying an additional explosive device, as well as a knife.
 
Maj.-Gen. Mizrahi accepted the conclusions of the investigation, stating that the soldiers at the crossing acted according to protocol. He mentioned that the soldiers' actions prevented what could have been a deadly terrorist attack.