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Palestinians return weapons stolen from IDF soldiers ambushed in Jenin

Des Palestiniens jettent des pierres sur un véhicule des forces israéliennes, le 18 janvier 2018 à Jénine en Cisjordanie occupée
JAAFAR ASHTIYEH (AFP)
Some Palestinians praised PA for aiding the rescue, while others denounced coordination with IDF as 'treason'

Weapons stolen from two Israeli soldiers who were ambushed by an angry mob after they accidentally entered the West Bank city of Jenin on Monday were returned to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) by the Palestinian Authority.

The two soldiers, a male and a female, were apparently led astray by Israeli navigation app Waze and made a wrong turn into the city of Jenin where an angry mob attacked them with stones and stole their weapons.

The soldiers were extracted from the city with the help of Palestinian Authority security services through coordination with the IDF Civil Administration, a body that acts as liaison between military units and the Palestinians.

The two soldiers were evacuated to hospital suffering light to moderate injuries. An image purporting to show the female victim circulating on social media depicts her with a bloodied face and the apparently more severe injury.

Palestinians had mixed reactions to the incident. While some praised the Palestinian forces for acting “in a responsible manner” and aiding the soldiers’ rescue, others denounced the PA’s coordination with Israel as “treason.”

“Our men acted in a responsible manner,” a Palestinian official in Jenin is quoted by the Times of Israel as saying. “Our duty is to maintain law and order and prevent harm to anyone who enters our cities, regardless of their identity. Today we proved that the Palestinian security forces are in control and are determined to prevent anarchy and lawlessness.”

On micro-blogging site Twitter, many reactions to the incident included the hashtag “coordination in treason” and many users praised the “heroism” of the mob that confronted the Israeli army vehicle.

Others mocked the screaming and crying of the female soldier as she was attacked, saying that it invalidated the IDF’s unassailable reputation.

IDF Spokesperson's Unit

Monday’s incident evoked in Israeli society memories of the gruesome lynching of Israeli reservists Vadim Nurzhitz and Yossi Avrahami whose bodies were mutilated by a vicious crowd after they mistakenly passed a checkpoint and drove into the West Bank city of Ramallah in October 2000.

The incident, at the height of the Second Palestinian Intifada (Uprising), was caught on camera by an Italian television crew. The brutality of the soldiers' killings shocked the Israeli public.

In February 2016, the IDF used the controversial ‘Hannibal Directive’ during the rescue of two soldiers who accidentally strayed into Qalandiya refugee camp and came under attack.

The entry of the soldiers led to fierce clashes, with the two fleeing their jeep and Israeli forces staging a rescue leaving one Palestinian killed and 15 people wounded.

The Hannibal Directive is a highly controversial army procedure that allows for the IDF to deploy massive firepower in the event that an Israeli soldier has been kidnapped or risks being kidnapped, in order to prevent them from being captured.

The use of force is deployed in spite of the casualties it may cause, including to the IDF soldier in question.

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