In what began as a case of wrong directions, one Palestinian was killed overnight in Qalandia refugee camp in the West Bank in clashes that broke out between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli forces during an Israeli army rescue mission to retrieve two soldiers who lost their way after marking their course with the mobile directions app Waze.
Omar Iyad Sajdiya, 22, was killed after he was shot in the head during the confrontation that took place between 10pm and midnight Monday. Sajdiya was a student at Al Quds University studying media and communications, according to local media.
Erab al-Fuqaha, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Cresent Society, told Mondoweiss six more Palestinians were injured with live-fire, nine with rubber bullets and six were injured from burns and broken limbs “during beatings from soldiers.”
Israeli media reported ten Israeli forces were injured during the rescue operation.
The two soldiers had been traveling between al-Ram and Adam settlement navigating the route with the popular Israeli mobile app Waze, which allows users to update the service’s map. While Waze now includes a number of Israeli checkpoints and military crossings after users made the additions, the map does not allow a driver to see when they are crossing between a Palestinian town and an Israeli settlement.
According to army protocol soldiers are expected to chart their course in advance of motoring in the occupied Palestinian territory and not to rely on phone applications, explained Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon at a press conference in Tel Aviv this morning.
“They used Waze and I always said that, when using GPS, you also need to know how to navigate with a map,” Ya’alon said.
To find the missing soldiers the Israeli army launched the “Hannibal directive” a forceful military operation to find lost men in the battlefield, and the name of an incursion during the 2014 war in Gaza where the Israeli military sought to find captive soldiers.
The Israeli army opened an investigation today into the actions of both the soldiers who went missing and their commanders. The Israeli daily Haaretz reported the inquiry found that once inside of the camp the army vehicle was attacked with stones and molotov cocktails. The soldiers then exited and separated, one taking cover inside of the refugee camp and the other heading off on foot to a nearby Israeli settlement—the Israeli army located him approximately an hour later.
Palestinians then set aflame the army Jeep, which backup teams would later retrieve during the heated rescue operation.
“The soldier who remained in the camp had a cellphone, which he used to contact his commanders. He also used his weapon a number of times, firing into the air. Contact with the other soldier was lost, and when the army realized that contact had been lost with him, the Hannibal protocol was invoked throughout the IDF Central Command area. The soldier was located more than an hour later. Overnight, the IDF extracted the army vehicle, which had been completely burned, from the refugee camp.”
Palestinian media reported one of the missing soldiers hid inside of the camp’s cemetery, which was the focal point of the clashes between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli army reinforcements. Al Quds newspaper, the Palestinian newspaper of record, reported witnesses said they saw helicopters circle overhead, undercover Israeli units dressed as “Arabs,” and army bulldozers all come to aid the missing soldiers.