An Israeli prosecutor has charged two soldiers for attempting to bomb a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank, in a rare indictment over an offense against Palestinians.
Prosecutors charged the two soldiers with making an explosive device, aggravated intentional assault, intentional harm to property and impeaching the investigation, the Israeli army announced late Thursday. The court ordered the soldiers to remain in detention until a hearing next month. They were arrested on Nov. 28.
The indictment said the two defendants acted out of revenge for the abduction of the body of an Israeli schoolboy in the flashpoint West Bank city of Jenin on Nov. 22.
Fero’s father accused the Palestinians of removing his son from his life-support machine while he was still alive. The Israeli military had said he was already dead when they took him.
The seizure of the boy’s body spread alarm among Israel’s Druze community. As anger rose, videos circulated on social media of Druze men threatening to take revenge against Palestinians.
Amid the standoff over Fero’s body, the two defendants – reportedly Druze soldiers – conspired with another soldier to assemble an explosive device, the military said on Thursday. The soldiers identified a Palestinian home near the West Bank city of Bethlehem as their target and lobbed stones at it. A few days later, they threw the explosive into the crowded house “with the intent of starting a fire in the home,” the military added.
The military said the attack caused no casualties. It said it opened an investigation into the incident following a complaint from the Palestinian homeowner.
The military said it would issue an indictment against the third soldier in the coming days. The three soldiers were not named. The military did not comment on the penalties they could face.
Such a swift military prosecution is highly unusual and underscored the seriousness of the case. Rights groups long have alleged that Israeli military investigations into the killings of Palestinians reflect a pattern of impunity. Earlier this month, Israeli soldiers accused of harming Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip over the last five years have been indicted in less than 1% of the 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 reaches its highest level in years. The Israeli military has conducted near-daily raids into Palestinian cities and towns, killing more than 150 Palestinians. The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions have also been killed.
Meanwhile, Palestinian attacks using knives, bombs and shootings have killed 29 Israelis in 2022, both soldiers and civilians, Israel’s Foreign Ministry reported.
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 entered Nablus to arrest Ahmed Massari, a wanted 19-year-old Palestinian militant from the Lion’s Den group, a new militant group led by young fighters from the city.
Palestinians shot at Israeli soldiers and hurled stones and explosive devices at Israeli vehicles, and the Israeli military unleashed tear gas and live fire. The streets were ablaze with gunfire and burning tires.
The Palestinian Health Ministry later reported that eight Palestinians were wounded by flying shrapnel from bullets