Middle East

Israeli soldier shot dead by 'friendly fire' in West Bank attack

Israeli police officers stand guard at the scene of an attack at the Gush Etzion Junction Image copyright EPA
Image caption Both the Israeli officer and the Palestinian assailant were shot in Wednesday's incident

An Israeli military reserve officer has been shot dead, apparently by a fellow soldier, during an attack by a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank.

The military said the soldier opened fire as the Palestinian man attempted to stab Capt Eliav Gelman at Gush Etzion Junction.

An initial investigation suggested Capt Gelman was fatally wounded as a result of the fire, it added.

The assailant was also shot and sustained moderate injuries.

Gush Etzion, a bloc of Jewish settlements located between Jerusalem and Hebron, has been one of the focal points of a five-month surge in violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Wednesday's incident began when a soldier stationed at Gush Etzion Junction saw a Palestinian armed with a knife charging at Capt Gelman, an Israeli military spokesperson told the Jerusalem Post.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Security had been stepped up at the Gush Etzion Junction after a series of attacks

The soldier fired at the assailant, striking both him and the captain, according to an initial investigation, the spokesperson added.

Capt Gelman was taken to the Shaare Zedek Medical Centre in Jerusalem in a critical condition, but he succumbed to his wounds two hours after the attack.

At least 27 Israelis have been killed in a wave of stabbing, shooting or car-ramming attacks by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs since October.

More than 160 Palestinians - mostly attackers, Israel says - have also been killed in that period.

'Mistreatment'

The assailants who have been killed have either been shot dead by their victims or security forces as they carried out attacks. Some attackers have been arrested.

Other Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops.

Also on Wednesday, two Israeli human rights groups released a report in which they said dozens of Palestinian detainees being held at an Israeli detention facility had been subjected to mistreatment, and in some cases torture.

The groups, B'Tselem and HaMoked, presented accounts from 116 detainees about conditions at the Shikma interrogation facility, run by the Israeli Shin Bet internal security agency.

The reports includes allegations that detainees were at times exposed to extreme heat or cold, tied to a chair or denied access to a shower for days or weeks. The detainees said they were shouted at and spat on, deprived of sleep and given little, substandard food.

"The combination of conditions both in and outside the interrogation room constitutes abuse and inhuman, degrading treatment, at times even amounting to torture," the report said.

The justice ministry denied the claims, saying the facility was run in accordance with the law, while Shin Bet called the report "twisted", according to the Associated Press.

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