Details of Kalandiya Incident Emerge From Investigation

YERUSHALAYIM -
Palestinian men walks near debris at the Qalandya Refugee camp, following clashes between Israeli Security Forces and Palestinians terrorists following attack on a jeep of IDF soldiers who entered to the camp by mistake. March 1, 2016. (Flash90)
Palestinian men walks near debris at the Qalandya Refugee camp, following clashes between Israeli Security Forces and Palestinians terrorists following attack on a jeep of IDF soldiers who entered to the camp by mistake. March 1, 2016. (Flash90)

More details have emerged concerning the incident at the Kalandiya refugee camp where two IDF soldiers strayed into a near-lynch situation as the Israeli military and the police continued their investigation on Tuesday.

B’chasdei Shamayim, the two Israeli soldiers were rescued by army units from the hands of a mob of hundreds of Palestinians armed with rocks, firebombs and guns.

Their jeep went up in flames, but they were able to get out of it in time and flee from the deadly mob. Each of the soldiers fled in a different direction.

One of the soldiers succeeded in finding shelter in the yard of a private house, where he phoned his unit and described how the large, bloodthirsty crowd was searching for him as he spoke, and might find him any moment.

His comrade, who had fled from the other side of the jeep, lost his cellphone in the commotion and decided to try to get away through the wadi that connects Kalandiya with the Jewish community of Kochav Yaakov.

The IDF quickly organized its effort to reach both soldiers before the mob did. Within minutes after receiving report of their plight, hundreds of soldiers with armored vehicles, military tractors and other equipment arrived at Kalandiya. There, they were given a “warm reception” in the form of dozens of firebombs and terrorists firing live ammunition, along with hundreds of others throwing rocks at them from rooftops and roadsides.

As the arriving troops began a house-to-house search for the two missing soldiers, exchanges of fire took place in which six IDF soldiers were wounded. On the other side, two Palestinians were killed and about a dozen wounded, two of them seriously.

The IDF declared the “Hannibal Protocol,” in which a soldier has gone missing, “apparently kidnapped,” and activated its cutting-edge electronic system for locating the men. One group focused on reaching the soldier hiding in the yard, as they encountered difficulty in locating the one who had lost his phone and had disappeared into the wadi.

Local units from Kochav Yaakov familiar with the terrain were detailed to go into the wadi after the latter. After the rescue, on Tuesday night, members of the search recounted how they had called out to him, “We’re from the IDF, we’ve come to help you!” But their voices were drowned out by the sound of gunfire from Palestinians who had also entered the wadi looking for the soldier.

Meanwhile, the soldier kept going toward Kochav Yaakov. As he neared the outskirts of the town, he stopped to see who was coming. Only after he heard the calls to him in Hebrew did he answer in Hebrew. But even at that stage, the soldiers were cautious in their approach, since it could still have been a Palestinian. Only after they drew closer, and he gave his name and ID number, proving he was an IDF soldier, did they make direct contact.

“When we got to him, he was confused and shaking, and had difficulty explaining what had happened, and kept asking about the other soldier. We took him to safety, gave him something to drink, calmed him, summoned medical personnel to check him, after he said that he felt he had been hit in the shooting, though that proved to be not the case,” they said.

Meanwhile, the other soldier was extricated unhurt from the yard of the house where he was hiding. At that point, the IDF forces exited the camp, which took about two hours due to roadblocks and burning tires.

It is worth noting that the Kalandiya refugee camp is located in the suburbs of Yerushalyim, and at the time of the Oslo Accords it was left in the responsibility of the Israeli authorities, in Area C. Neverthess, the IDF decided to stay out of the camp, and as a result it became one of the most hostile and dangerous areas in Yehudah and Shomron. The Palestinian Authority security forces also do not patrol there, and so the place is dominated by armed gangs who fight every day.

The massive amount of gunfire aimed at the rescue forces gave further evidence that there is hardly a Palestinian house without arms and ammunition.