Israeli army demotes soldier in Qusra killing

12:00 Oct 24 2011 Qusra

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- The Israeli army fired the commander of forces who shot dead a 33-year-old man in the northern West Bank in September, Israeli media reported Sunday.

The officer will stay in the army but is taken off combat duties after a string of misdemeanors, the Israeli news site Ynet reported.

Israel's army said the Sept. 23 shooting by forces in Qusra village which killed Issam Kamal Odeh, 33, was an "operational failure."

The army inquiry said opening fire in response to a settler raid was an error in judgment, Ynet said, adding that the decision to remove the officer came after a number of different incidents.

Qusra, near Nablus, is frequently raided by settlers from surrounding Jewish-only communities who torched a village mosque in September.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, expressed concern in early October that Israeli forces "seem to be very quick to resort to excessive force when it comes to the Palestinians and not to restrain the settlers."

On the same day as the shooting, two Palestinian minors were detained for two hours and were allegedly beaten and humiliated by soldiers before being released, he said.

"We do have particular concerns about the way the IDF (Israeli army) operates in circumstances, particularly in those surrounding this particular village," he added.

Also Sunday, Israeli media reported a high-ranking Israeli officer was arrested on suspicion of drug-trafficking from the Egyptian border.

The major was among nine -- including two military police officers under his command -- accused of operating a drug ring in Israel's south that trafficked 2.5 million shekels ($690,000) worth of hash and heroin, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
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