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Middle East
Israel discharges soldier over raid
Commando who took part in botched raid that killed sleeping Palestinian man dismissed from service.
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2011 23:44 GMT
The 67-year-old Palestinian man was shot dead while asleep in his bed during the botched raid [AFP]

An Israeli soldier has been discharged over the killing of an unarmed Palestinian man as he slept in his bedroom in the occupied West Bank.

In a statement, the Israeli military said it "deeply regrets" the shooting dead of 65-year-old Amr Qawasme in the botched raidto seize a Hamas fighter on January 7.


Israeli soldiers were hunting for five Hamas fighters recently released from a Palestinian jail when they forced their way into Qawasme's home and shot him.

Qawasme lived with his family one floor above one of the wanted men's homes.

The army had previously admitted that the killing was a mistake, but a military inquiry said a "suspicious movement" led one squad member to open fire, believing his life was in danger.

Rules of engagement

The army exonerated the soldier who shot first, with a general who was presented with the results of the investigation concluding that the "firing was executed in accordance with the [Israeli army's] rules of engagement".

A second commando who joined in the shooting was, however, dismissed from service.

The general "ordered the soldier's military term be terminated". He concluded that while the commando "did feel threatened, he acted unprofessionally".

No further details were given.

There was no immediate Palestinian reaction to the army's decision, although a Palestinian official had earlier described the shooting as a "cold-blooded killing".

Meanwhile, a Palestinian man who opened fire on Israeli troops at a checkpost in the northern West Bank was killed on Thursday.

The Israeli military said the man had approached the post near the settlement of Mevo Dotan and opened fire with a Kalashnikov rifle, after shouting "Allahu Akbar.

Checkpoint killing

Itamar Ashenazi, the deputy commander of the battalion involved in the incident, said the man approached the checkpost on a donkey. He then dismounted and began to walk towards the Israeli soldiers, prompting four of them to point their weapons at him.

"He didn't stop, he shouted 'Allahu Akbar' and started firing to the soldiers," Ashenazi said. "They fired the first shots in the air and when he didn't stop shooting ... they shot him."

The shooting took place near the settlement of Mevo Dotan, some 10km southwest of the town of Jenin.

Palestinian security officials named the dead man as 23-year-old Saalem Mohammed Samudi from Yamun village near Jenin, saying he was a relative and very close friend of another Palestinian shot dead by troops on January 8 at a checkpoint near Nablus.

In that incident, Khaldun Samudi was shot dead as he ran towards the checkpoint.

It was the third time this month that troops have shot dead a Palestinian at an army post or checkpoint.

On January 2, Israeli troops at the same checkpoint near Nablus shot and killed a Palestinian after he entered the wrong lane holding a bottle that troops apparently mistook for a weapon.

Source:
Agencies
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