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West Bank: Israeli soldier kills his colleague in 'friendly fire'

Israeli army initially said Natan Fitoussi, 20, was hit in a shooting attack but later retracted its statement
Fitoussi is the third Israeli soldier to be killed by friendly fire since the start of the year (Israeli army handout)

An Israeli soldier who killed his colleague in a friendly fire incident in the occupied West Bank on Monday evening followed the military’s open-fire procedures, according to a preliminary probe by the army into the death.

Natan Fitoussi, 20, of the Kfir infantry brigade, had left his post located between the city of Tulkarm and the village of Shuweika in the occupied West Bank to pray. 

When he returned, his colleague “shot him after an arrest procedure, which included shooting into the air and at the legs,” military spokesperson Ran Kochav told Kan public radio on Tuesday morning.

Israel's army initially said Fitoussi was hit in a shooting attack but later retracted its statement.

"We'll accompany [the soldier who opened fire] and try to understand his thought process and the circumstances that led to the error", said Kochav, who added that the shooter's condition was "normal".

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There were several metres between the two soldiers during the shooting, according to the initial investigation. 

It was unclear why Fitoussi, who was shot twice, was misidentified as a threat.

The army's open-fire procedures include shouting at a suspect to halt, firing into the air, and only using deadly force if the soldier feels threatened.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defence Minister Benny Gantz were among those who sent condolences to Fitoussi's family.

Fitoussi is the third Israeli soldier to be killed by friendly fire since the start of the year.

Dozens of Palestinians arrested

Fitoussi's shooting came as Israeli forces arrested dozens of Palestinians in the West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip overnight Monday and into Tuesday morning.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Club, which represents former and current inmates, reported incursions across the West Bank.

It said dozens of houses had been broken into and searched, with residents interrogated and detained for long periods.

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Eight Palestinians were rounded up in Silwad town, northeast of Ramallah, according to the Palestinian news website Arab48

Israeli army vehicles stormed the Dheisheh refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, where soldiers entered and searched several houses, eventually detaining three people, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Israeli forces also arrested two former prisoners, one from Ras Karkar village, northwest of Ramallah, and one from Deir Jarir town, northeast of Ramallah.

Five Palestinians were detained in the old city of Hebron, along with two brothers from the city's Ain Sarah neighbourhood. 

In the Jordan Valley, Israeli forces arrested a man the town of Tammun, while he was crossing through the al-Hamra military checkpoint, close to Jericho.

In occupied East Jerusalem, three Palestinians were detained after their homes were raided in the Isawiyya neighbourhood.

Four fishermen from the Gaza Strip were among those also detained, with the Israeli navy intercepting the men's fishing boat offshore of al-Sudaniya, northwest of Gaza city, and seizing the vessel.

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