Israeli soldier tries to fend off Palestinian stabber, kills fellow serviceman instead

Medics evacuate a Palestinian man who was injured while carrying out a stabbing attack on an Israeli in the West Bank, at a hospital in Jerusalem February 24, 2016. © Ammar Awad
An Israeli reserve officer was killed by friendly fire after being attacked by a Palestinian assailant.

The incident occurred at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank on Wednesday afternoon, where Eliav Gelman, 30, an Air Force reserve captain, was attacked by Mamdouh Amro, 26, while standing at a bus stop.

An Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldier opened fire to prevent Gelman from being stabbed, but hit both the reserve officer and his assailant. Gelman and Amro were sent to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, where the captain died of his gun wounds, while the attacker remains in moderate condition, the Jerusalem Post reports.

“IDF forces at the scene responded and in order to thwart the attack fired toward the assailant. Initial investigation suggests that Captain Gelman was injured as a result of the fire,” an army statement said, adding that Gelman was in uniform at the time of the attack, Times of Israel reports.

Captain Gelman is said to have left a permanent job in the army to work for the private security industry only a few month ago. He had two children and a pregnant wife.

“He was the best of the group. Eliav was excellent, exact, loved and loving, he was connected to the people of Israel, the land of Israel, the Torah of Israel,” Gelman’s brother Eyal told reporters at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center, as cited by Times of Israel.

“He died in a battle we’ve been experiencing for a long time,” he added.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin condemned the attack during a meeting on the need for economic equity with Arab-Israeli leaders.

“There is no forgiveness for terrorism. There is no tolerance for terrorism. All those who sit here have to denounce it vigorously. The fire of terrorism, which has given us so many victims, in the past six months, is also the fire that could ignite the bridge we are trying to build here today. I send my condolences to the family,” Rivlin said, as cited by the Jerusalem Post.

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel called for adopting stricter measures to prevent further attacks at the Gush Etzion junction, which is a key transport hub for both Israeli and Palestinian vehicles.

“It can’t be that Israeli citizens are murdered over and over again in the same spot and there is no proper security response,” said Ariel, the Jerusalem Post reports.

“I am in favor of easing restrictions on Palestinians, but it is the basic obligation of the government to protect Israeli citizens, and therefore we should stop Palestinian traffic on the roads leading to the intersection today. This is not a matter of punishment, but instead a prevention of the murder of Jews,” he added.

The wave of violence between Israel and Palestine erupted at the beginning of October when Israel tried to restrict the access of Palestinian men to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. During almost five months of unrest, Israeli security forces have killed at least 168 Palestinians, 111 of whom allegedly initiated attacks. Palestinian assailants have killed 28 Israelis, as well as one US citizen, Reuters reported.