GOC Central Command, Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi has concluded the operational investigations of the two incidents in which IDF soldiers were attacked at the “Bekaot” crossing (on January 2 and January 8, 2011). The incidents resulted in the deaths of Mohammed Dragma and Khaldoun Samoudi.
When referring to both incidents, GOC Central Command emphasized that the soldiers at the scene acted in accordance with IDF protocol. In both incidents, it was clear that the Palestinians intended to assault the soldiers at the crossing, and were in possession of materials that would have enabled them to do so.
- Incident A:
On January 2, 2011, Mohammed Dragma attempted to attack the soldiers posted at the “Bekaot” crossing using a glass bottle.
The investigation shows that Mohammed Dragma arrived at the crossing in the early hours of the morning, and rapidly approached the soldiers through an unauthorized lane, one that is not intended for security inspection, while shouting in Arabic. The investigation also concluded that Dragma, who frequented the crossing, was most likely aware that the lane he used was not authorized. Dragma ignored the repeated calls from the soldiers to halt. The commander of the crossing saw Dragma raise his hand holding a suspicious object, and fired in the direction of his lower body. When Dragma continued to approach the soldiers while shouting at them in Arabic, the commander felt they were faced with a real threat and so fired at Dragma for the second time. It was the second shot which resulted in his death.
GOC Central Command, Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi received the investigation summary, and concluded that firing at Dragma was done out of the commander’s sense of an immediate life-threatening danger, which was justified given the circumstances. The crossing commander only fired after carrying out preliminary steps that are intended to neutralize the attacker, and did all he could to avoid the use of gunfire.
Maj. Gen. Mizrahi was presented with previous incidents at the “Bekaot” crossing over the months in which the same IDF force was manning the crossing. These incidents included an attempt to snatch a soldier’s weapon and attempts to smuggle explosive devices through the crossing. Therefore, these incidents added to the soldiers’ feeling of being under threat during the most recent incident. The soldiers did not respond with fire in any of the previous occurrences.
- Incident B:
On January 8, 2011, during a routine security inspection at the Bekaot crossing, Khaldoun Samoudi attempted to commit a terrorist attack using improvised explosive devices and a knife, charging at the soldiers while shouting “Allahu Akbar”. The soldiers, realizing that Samoudi was attempting to attack them, fired at him, resulting in his death.
Prior to the shooting, soldiers identified a Palestinian taxi arriving at the crossing. Samoudi exited the taxi and ran in the soldiers’ direction, while the rest of the passengers in the taxi fled the scene.
The inquiry found that the soldiers used the appropriate rules of engagement, during which the commander of the force, having identified the suspect as holding what seemed to be a grenade, fired directly at him. After being hit, Samoudi dropped what was discovered to be an improvised explosive device. Searches at the scene revealed that Samoudi was carrying an additional explosive device, as well as a knife.
Maj. Gen. Mizrahi has accepted the conclusions of the investigation, stating that the soldiers at the crossing acted according to protocol. He mentioned that the soldiers’ actions prevented what could have been a deadly terrorist attack.