An Israeli prosecutor has charged two soldiers with attempting to blow up a Palestinian house in the occupied West Bank as part of a rare charge of a crime against Palestinians.
Prosecutors have charged the two soldiers with making an explosive device, aggravated assault, intentional damage to property and impeaching the investigation, the Israeli army said late Thursday. The court ordered the soldiers to remain in custody until a hearing next month. They were arrested on November 28th.
The indictment states that the two defendants acted out of revenge for the kidnapping of the body of an Israeli schoolboy in the West Bank city of Jenin on November 22.
Fero’s father accused the Palestinians of taking his son off life support while he was still alive. The Israeli military said he was already dead when they took him.
The removal of the boy’s body caused alarm among the Druze community in Israel. As anger grew on social media, videos of the Druze threatening to take revenge on the Palestinians were circulated.
The military said on Thursday that during the standoff over Fero’s body, the two defendants – reportedly Druze soldiers – conspired with another soldier to assemble an explosive device. The soldiers identified a Palestinian house near the West Bank city of Bethlehem as their target and threw stones at it. A few days later, they threw explosives into a crowded house “with the intention of setting the house on fire,” the military added.
The military said no one was hurt in the attack. It said it had launched an investigation into the incident following a complaint from a Palestinian homeowner.
The military said they would indict a third soldier in the coming days. The names of the three soldiers are not mentioned. The military does not comment on the penalties that they may face.
Such a quick military pursuit is highly unusual and highlights the seriousness of the matter. Human rights groups have long argued that Israeli military investigations into killings of Palestinians demonstrate impunity. Earlier this month, Israeli soldiers accused of harming Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza over the past five years were blamed for less than 1% of 1,260 complaints against them.
Critics have repeatedly accused Israeli forces of using excessive firepower in the West Bank as violence in the occupied territory has reached its highest level in years. The Israeli military conducts almost daily raids on Palestinian cities and towns, killing more than 150 Palestinians. The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed were militants. But stone-throwing young people protesting the incursions were also killed.
Meanwhile, 29 Israelis, both soldiers and civilians, were killed in 2022 Palestinian attacks with knives, bombs and gunfire, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said.
Most of the Palestinians were killed during Israeli military raids and fighting in the northern West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus. On Friday, the Israeli military said it had entered Nablus to arrest Ahmed Massari, a wanted 19-year-old Palestinian militant from the Lion’s Den, a new militant group led by young militants from the city.
The Palestinians fired on Israeli soldiers and threw stones and explosives at Israeli vehicles, while the Israeli military fired tear gas and opened fire. The streets were engulfed in flames and burning tires.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health later reported that eight Palestinians were wounded by bullet fragments.