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Israeli army to discharge soldier in mistaken killing of Palestinian

By Joel Greenberg
Wednesday, January 19, 2011; 8:00 PM

JERUSALEM - The Israeli army said Wednesday that it will discharge a soldier for fatally shooting a 66-year-old Palestinian man in his bed in the West Bank city of Hebron during an early-morning roundup of Hamas militants on Jan 7.

The man, Omar al-Qawasmeh, was killed by special forces troops who apparently mistook him for a militant who lived in the same building. Qawasmeh's wife said he had been sleeping and she was praying when soldiers came to their bedroom and immediately opened fire.

An army statement said that one soldier fired when Qawasmeh made "a suspicious movement that caused the soldier to feel that his life was threatened" and that an investigation by a senior officer determined that he had acted according to the military's rules of engagement.

However, a second soldier who fired while also claiming to feel threatened was found to have acted "unprofessionally" and would be discharged, the army said.

A military spokeswoman said no legal action will be taken against the discharged soldier.

Greenberg is a special correspondent.

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