JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli prosecutors will not charge two Israeli fathers who shot into a mob of rock-throwing Palestinians, killing one, while escorting a West Bank hike in honor of a boy’s bar mitzvah.
On Monday, the Central District Attorney’s Office determined that the fathers shot their firearms in self-defense and closed the case.
On Nov. 30, at least 30 Palestinian men from the northern West Bank village of Qusra surrounded the children and their parent escorts and started throwing rocks. The two fathers escorting the hike fired into the air to break it up, killing a Palestinian farmer.
The boys were ushered into a cave to keep them safe until Israeli security forces arrived, but they were harassed by the rioting Palestinians and some of their equipment was stolen. Some Qusra residents attempted to help and protect the group of Israeli students.
An initial police investigation into the incident determined that the children and their adult chaperones came under attack from residents of Qusra and that the shooting was justified since the men felt their lives were threatened.
The escorts’ version of the incident was backed by the testimony of a local resident who confirmed that the adult escorts fired in self-defense after rocks were thrown at them, Ynet reported.
At least 27 alleged attackers were arrested. Several have been indicted by the Military Advocate General’s Office.
“We are pleased that at least now the case has been closed, and we regret the injustice the fathers suffered until now,” the legal NGO Honenu, which provided the men with representation, said in a statement. “Immediately after their release from the hospital they were taken to the police station for interrogation, and instead of receiving a commendation, they were considered suspects. The police insulted heroic men who, as citizens, performed a courageous act and protected the boys with their bodies.”