JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military said Thursday that an internal investigation found soldiers had acted in self-defense during an incident last week in the occupied West Bank in which a Palestinian man was shot and left paralyzed.
The man was shot in the neck as Israeli troops clashed with Palestinians in a West Bank village on Saturday. The Israeli military said “a violent riot” broke out when troops were evacuating a building that was built illegally.
The Palestinian health ministry said the gunshot left Haron Abu Aram, 24, quadriplegic.
A statement from the military spokesperson’s unit said the preliminary inquiry found the soldiers “faced mortal threats while carrying out enforcement activities in the area of the village of At-Tuwani.”
It said the commanding officer had fired warning shots in the air, and as the shots were fired, “two Palestinians attacked the commander — one grabbing him forcibly and the other seizing his weapon. As a result, a stray round struck another Palestinian who was part of the riot.”
The army said that a separate Military Police investigation was also underway.
Palestinians and human rights groups have criticized the Israeli military for “whitewashing” cases of violence committed by its troops in the West Bank and not holding soldiers accountable.
Witnesses said the incident began when Israeli troops tried to stop the villagers from building a home, and seized a power generator owned by Abu Aram. Critics say Israel prevents Palestinians from building houses in areas under its control in the West Bank without hard-to-obtain building permits.
The Palestinians claim the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with a capital in east Jerusalem, for a future state. They say that Israel’s West Bank settlements — which most countries consider illegal under international law — are an impediment to a peaceful resolution to the conflict and an independent Palestinian state.