Soldier Who Killed Rabbi Mertzbach to be Questioned
The military police will question the IDF soldier who fired on Friday at the vehicle driven by Rabbi Dan Mertzbach from Otniel, killing him and wounding two other passengers.
The questioning will take place after the Military Advocate General ordered an investigation into the matter on Saturday.
As well, an officer from outside the military police will review the investigation that has been conducted into the incident.
An initial investigation conducted by the Central Command has found that at about 4:30 a.m. on Friday morning, the guard of the community of Beit Haggai noticed a suspicious vehicle traveling in the area. According to one report, the guard asked the driver for identification but the driver did not notice him and continued driving.
The guard then contacted IDF headquarters and local soldiers put up a makeshift roadblock. Shortly after 5:00 a.m. they saw a Peugeot car headed toward the roadblock.
The soldiers claim that they called the vehicle to stop, but the passengers in the vehicle said they hadn’t heard any such call. One of the soldiers, who felt that he was in mortal danger, fired eight shots at the car.
The investigation also found that the soldier who fired the shots was hit seconds later by a passing truck driven by a Palestinian Authority Arab. According to the investigation, Rabbi Mertzbach had been driving with his lights on, despite reports in the media which claimed the opposite.
On Friday, the daughter of one of the female passengers who were wounded told Channel 10 News that her mother had said that the soldiers had fired directly at the vehicle without warning.
“The soldiers fired into the air without warning, but when they saw that he didn’t stop, they fired at his head and neck instead of shooting at the wheels,” the daughter said. “He was killed on the spot. Although they saw that they hit him, they continued to shoot and hit the car from behind.”
Rabbi Mertzbach, 55, was laid to rest on the Mount of Olives on Friday afternoon. He is survived by a wife, five children and 10 grandchildren. A professional architect, he served as a rabbi for Tene Omarim, Shima and Eshkolot.