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30 Dec, 2022 21:02

Israeli soldiers charged in Palestinian home bombing

Prosecutors took the rare step against two Druze servicemen, who are ethnic Arabs but not Muslim
Israeli soldiers charged in Palestinian home bombing

Two soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have been indicted over an incident in Jenin, when they allegedly threw a homemade bomb at a Palestinian home and set it on fire. Prosecutors say the Druze soldiers acted in “revenge” for the snatching of a car crash victim’s body from an area hospital.

Military prosecutors announced the charges on Thursday evening. They include making an explosive device, aggravated intentional assault, intentional harm to property with a racist motive, and obstructing the investigation. The two soldiers have been in custody since November 28.

Another soldier is expected to be charged in the coming days with assisting the construction of the bomb. The two prime suspects are from the Druze community, while the accomplice is Jewish, according to the public broadcaster Kan, but their names have been withheld for privacy reasons. 

All three soldiers were with a tank unit stationed in nearby Bethlehem, when riots broke out in Jenin over the bizarre abduction of a Druze boy from a Jenin hospital. Tiran Fero, 17, was gravely injured in a car crash on November 22. His family claimed Fero was still alive when Palestinian militants abducted him and disconnected him from life support. The Israeli military and security sources said Fero was already dead when his body was taken.

Thousands of Druze – who are ethnic Arabs but not Muslim – rallied to block a highway in protest. Fero’s remains were returned to Israeli custody after about 30 hours. 

The two soldiers first threw rocks at a “seemingly random” home in a village near Jenin, then returned late on November 27 to set fire to it with a makeshift bomb. While no one was injured, the house was damaged by the fire – and as people were inside, aggravated assault was added to the list of charges.

Indictments of IDF soldiers for actions in the Palestinian territories are rare. According to the human rights group Yesh Din, fewer than 1% of the 1,260 complaints over the last five years have resulted in charges. 

More than 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces in 2022. The government in Jerusalem insists most of them were militants, and points out that 29 Israelis have died in a series of knife, bomb and shooting attacks over the past year.