Israeli soldiers on Friday shot and killed a 65-year-old Palestinian Arab man in Hebron after mistaking him for a wanted terrorist and incorrectly interpreting his startled reaction to their raid as hostile action.
The Israelis entered the man’s house during the early morning hours. They burst into his bedroom and startled him from sleep. The man the Israelis wanted lived on a different floor of the building.
An Israeli army spokesman expressed deep regret over the death of an innocent man in this latest anti-terror operation, and noted that unfortunately, such tragic incidents do sometimes occur in a war situation.
The army ordered a swift investigation into the incident, and promised results by next week. But a military source did tell the Ynet news portal that while a mistake was definitely made, it must be understood in the context of such arrest raids, which Israeli soldiers must carry out on a daily basis. Often during such raids, the wanted terrorists will wait quietly for the Israelis and then suddenly open fire when the soldiers are at point-blank range.
Friday’s operation was aimed at rounding up a handful of Palestinian terrorists who had been prematurely released from a Palestinian Authority prison a day earlier. Army officials confirmed that at least five wanted men were arrested.
Israel has long complained that the Palestinian Authority merely makes a show of fighting anti-Israel terrorism, and almost always frees the terrorists when the international community is not paying attention.
In other violence, Israeli aircraft struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip overnight in response to terrorist mortar shell attacks on southern Israel on Thursday.