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900 Deaths, 1 Minor Indictment

First IDF soldier indictment since the beginning of this Intifada. Sgt. Eldad Benyamin is accused of “involuntary homicide.” Benyamin shot 21 years old Fatma Abu Jeesh, from Bayt Dajan village, to death. Abu-Jeesh was a passenger in an old Fiat 127, with a Palestinian license plate. The investigation report reveals a very heavy finger on the trigger, and very loose orders regarding when to shoot

Uri Blau, Kol Ha'ir

11 Jan. 2002

On January 7th 2001 an IDF unit was instructed to keep watch over the IDF road block at the entrance to the village of Bayt Furiq. The Shomron Brigade’s report says there were general alerts regarding an attempt to transport weapons in a Palestinian vehicle, but no specific “enemy” information.

According to the report, the outlook team identified several vehicles that drove around the road block. During that day the road block commander, Sgt. Eldad Benyamin, fired two times into the air. He did not report on the shooting. “That evening shooting was carried out a third time. Apparently he hit a Fiat 127 that passed north of the road block… the single bullet used hit a Palestinian woman, inhabitant of Bayt Dajan, and killed her on the spot (according to a report from the vehicle’s driver).”

The report says that the soldiers were not given instructions on opening fire when they were briefed for the assignment, but that the soldiers know “what is the definition for a life threatening situation.” It goes on to say that “The road block commander did not identify anything unusual around the vehicle he tried to stop, and that Benyamin is a fighter, did not attend a “commanders course,” and did not understand his assignment.

The reports conclusions say that the “mission procedure was very lacking.” The company commander was also found responsible: “The CC was negligent in not following the procedure of assigning a mission, “there is no mission sheet, no debriefing after the mission, no definition of the instructions on opening fire.”

“The soldier fired his weapon in contradiction of army orders. This means he did not follow the procedure for arresting a suspect… The event is serious… An innocent Palestinian woman was killed.”

The IDF spokesman response: “The event was investigated by the Brigade commander, and was presented before the Central Command’s commander. The soldier was indicted for involuntary homicide, following an investigation by the Military Police. The Central Command’s commander has removed the Company commander from his position, in accordance with the Brigade commander’s recommendation.


Kol Ha'ir Magazine is published on Fridays by the Schoken Local Press, there is no on-line edition, the staff can be contacted by email.