Lost Israel troops stray into camp, sparking bloody clashes
JERUSALEM (UPDATED) – Two Israeli soldiers said to be using a traffic app mistakenly entered a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank overnight, sparking clashes that killed one Palestinian and wounded 15 people, officials said Tuesday, March 1.
The two soldiers traveling in a jeep entered the Qalandiya refugee camp and were targeted with rocks and Molotov cocktails, Israeli officials said.
Israeli reinforcements were then deployed to the camp between Jerusalem and Ramallah to rescue them, provoking further clashes that lasted hours. The two soldiers were later rescued unharmed.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said the soldiers "apparently used Waze," the Israeli-developed navigation app now owned by Google.
It was not clear whether the app led them into the camp and the military said it was investigating. Waze includes an option to "avoid dangerous areas."
According to an Israeli police spokeswoman, Palestinians threw homemade explosives and shot at the rescue team, which also opened fire.
The Palestinian health ministry said one Palestinian was killed and 10 wounded. The dead man was identified as Eyad Omar Sajdia, a 22-year-old student.
Five Israeli border police were also wounded, one of them seriously, police said.
A trail of blood could be seen extending down a wall from a roof where Sajdia was believed to have been when he was shot.
The narrow roads of the camp were littered with rocks and other debris, and all stores were closed ahead of the planned funeral.
The two soldiers who first entered the camp abandoned their jeep, with one hiding in the courtyard of a house and shooting to defend himself and signal his position, the military spokesman said.
The other fled towards the nearby Israeli settlement of Kochav Yaakov.
'Didn't know the terrain'
The soldiers' mishap made headlines in Israel, whose military is reputed to be the region's most technologically advanced.
"They apparently used Waze, which indicated a shortcut from Jerusalem to Ramallah," Yaalon said at a conference, according to his office.
"They didn't know the terrain. We have to verify who sent them on the mission, what they knew and what they didn't know and how to respond when, in modern times, Waze shows you the way."
Yaalon said: "I learnt long ago, when GPS began to be used, that you cannot neglect locating yourself with a map."
He added that it was important to know "the environment and not be misled by technological systems that show you the way."
Waze did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Israeli raids on Qalandiya to arrest suspects have sparked heavy clashes in the past.
The camp is located just beyond a checkpoint separating annexed east Jerusalem and the West Bank. The heavily fortified crossing is a hated symbol of the Israeli occupation for Palestinians.
Qalandiya camp was established in 1949 in the wake of the creation of Israel and has grown into a densely populated town with 11,000 registered refugees.
Nearly one in five residents is unemployed, according to the UN, and around 60% are under 25 years old.
A wave of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories since October has killed 178 Palestinians as well as 28 Israelis, an American, a Sudanese, and an Eritrean, according to an AFP toll.
Most of the Palestinians who died in the violence were killed by Israeli forces while carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, according to Israeli authorities.
Others were shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes or demonstrations. – Shatha Yaish, AFP / Rappler.com