An IDF investigation into a clandestine operation to arrest wanted Palestinian activists reveals that at the last minute, the Shabak representative decided to make it an assassination operation. The military commander refused, and ordered to follow the usual arrest procedure, which resulted in killing one man, and seriously injuring the other.
On a mission to capture two wanted Palestinians in the West Bank, a regional Shabak (Israeli Secret Service) Coordinator ordered soldiers to kill the two suspects, although the operational assignment was only defined as an arrest. These facts are revealed in the Shomron Brigade’s internal investigation report, which also criticizes the Coordinator for his assassination initiative that appears to be patently illegal. The report has been leaked to Kol Ha’ir magazine that published it last Friday.
According to the investigation, the operation’s military commander, the deputy commander of the Shomron Brigade, ignored the Shabak Coordinator’s order and instructed his soldiers to follow the procedure for arresting suspects. The report maintains that the suspects tried to escape, and were then shot at. One of them, Sa’adi Haruf, was killed, the other was seriously injured. The Brigade Commander, Colonel Yosi Adiri, is quoted in the report as saying: “Yaniv, the [Shabak] Coordinator, was not authorized to say that the wanted [men] are to be killed. Carrying out a full suspect arrest procedure, as was done by the Deputy Brigade Commander’s instructions, was the right thing to do.”
During the night between December 14th and 15th 2000, Shabak instructed the IDF to lay ambush to a Palestinian car, near the village of Hawara. The Shabak brief said that two wanted Islamic Jihad activists, one of them a senior activist, will be in the car. The brief also stated that the two have tried to meet a collaborator and to acquire explosives for a bomb attack.
The IDF mission was “to identify the wanted [men] and capture them.” The operation was carried out by the Mista’arvim unit of the Border Guard. At 23:00 hours, after the operation was approved, the unit was deployed. At half past midnight the wanted men’s car was identified, and five minutes later, according to the report, it reached the bait vehicle. “00:35, the force identifies the Volvo parked in front of the Transit, from which the two wanted [men] came out. The driver called out to the Transit: ‘Ahmed!’ and the two moved towards the Transit. The force yelled at them: ‘Waqef! Jaysh!’ [Stop! Army!]. The two began to run away. The force opened fire at them. As a result, the senior wanted [activist] was killed, and the other was seriously injured.”
Under the heading “Authority to define the instructions on opening fire” Col. Adiri wrote that the Shabak Coordinator told the soldiers to kill the two, and not to arrest them. The Deputy Brigade Commander did not obey the Coordinator’s instruction, which appeared to be patently illegal (indeed, if the two can be arrested, why kill them? The forces’ assignment was not defined as an assassination). “This needs to be investigated,” Col. Adiri added, “in collaboration with the Shabak, and the regional headquarters.”
“An investigation in collaboration with the Shabak,” Col. Adiri wrote in concluding the report, “should settle the range of authority. The guide line is that the Shabak is responsible for the incriminating stage, whereas the operational method and the order to open fire are the responsibility of the [military] commanders.
Kol Ha’ir’s report notes that this case is but one example of the disagreements arise between the IDF and the Shabak in the last 15 months. “It would be interesting to know,” the magazine writes, “how many times military commanders did not disobey such illegal orders from Shabak workers.”