Israel accidentally kills rabbi mistaken for Palestinian militant

An Israeli soldier in the West Bank.
Credit: Hazem Bader

Israel Defense Forces killed a 55-year-old Israeli rabbi and settler, Dan Mertzbach, in what they say was an accidental shooting.

Soldiers opened fire on Mertzbach's car after it failed to stop at a temporary checkpoint between Yatta and Hebron in the southern West Bank, reported Haaretz.

Mertzbach was killed, while two passengers in the vehicle were wounded and taken to hospital.

The soldier who fired the shots was also injured when he ran toward the car and was struck by what a military spokesperson said was a Palestinian truck.

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The IDF had received reports of a suspicious vehicle in the area, the spokesperson said, which was why they had erected the checkpoint. They became alarmed when Mertzbach's car failed to stop when they tried to flag it down, he said.

The soldiers believed the car was driving "fast and in a suspicious way and [they] saw a threat to their lives," the spokesperson told Reuters.

Mertzbach was one of the founders of the nearby Otniel settlement, fellow settler Yehuda Glick told Israel's Army Radio. The rabbi and his passengers were on their way to morning prayers, Glick said.

The IDF said it would open an investigation into the incident.

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