IDF opens investigation after finding troops killed Palestinians unnecessarily at checkpoint

The IDF military police unit has launched an investigation after an initial investigation found a 45-year-old Palestinian man was needlessly shot dead in front of his son during an altercation with Israeli forces outside his West Bank village last week .

The incident took place last Tuesday when troops set up a makeshift checkpoint outside Silwad to inspect the vehicles entering and leaving the village, according to the initial investigation conducted by the brigade commander whose findings were leaked to Kan public broadcaster on Sunday.

A major traffic jam then ensued, angering many of the drivers who honked their horns in frustration. One of the soldiers on the scene decided to throw a stun grenade in response.

An enraged Ahmad Kahla then tried to get out of his vehicle, but the squad’s commander on the scene blocked him and sprayed the Palestinian with pepper spray, using a club he had not been given by the army. It was then that the soldiers decided to pull Kahla out of his car.

A fight ensued, as he resisted and also pulled the pistol of the soldier who tried to drag him from the vehicle. One of the soldiers then decided to fire his weapon and shoot Kahla in the upper body as his 19-year-old son watched from the car, Kan said. The father of four children was pronounced dead at the scene shortly afterwards.

While initial reports identified Kahla as a terrorist attempting an attack, the brigade commander who oversaw the initial investigation concluded that this was not the case and that “the incident should not end with a dead man”.

The IDF said in a statement that a military police investigation into the matter has been opened and the findings will be transferred to the office of the military advocate general. However, prosecution of troops involved in such altercations is rare.

The brigade commander’s initial investigation was consistent with testimony provided to Kan last week, who said soldiers took up to half an hour to inspect a single vehicle before letting it through. When they got to Kahla’s car, it started yelling at the troops, the unnamed witness said.

He kind of yelled at them, so they came to the car and sprayed it with pepper spray. When they got him out of the car, he was covered in pepper spray. He couldn’t see anything. He started to move his arms back and forth and one of the soldiers shot him,” said the witness.

The Palestinian Authority’s foreign ministry condemned the deadly incident as a “gruesome execution”.

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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