2 Israeli soldiers stray into West Bank refugee camp, spark firefight

Story highlights

  • 2 Israeli soldiers strayed mistakenly into a Palestinian refugee camp
  • Israeli soldiers and border policemen entered camp to rescue soldiers, said IDF
  • IDF: Both soldiers rescued, 1 Palestinian killed in operation

Jerusalem (CNN)A navigation mistake led to a deadly firefight in a West Bank refugee camp that left one Palestinian dead Monday night, according to Israeli authorities.

Two Israeli soldiers in a military jeep mistakenly entered the Qalandiya refugee camp in the West Bank between Jerusalem and Ramallah, said Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, speaking at a technology conference Tuesday morning. Inside the refugee camp, the jeep was hit by a Molotov cocktail that lit the vehicle on fire, said the IDF Spokesperson's Office in a statement. The two soldiers jumped out of the vehicle and ran away.
    A large group of Israeli soldiers and border policemen entered the camp to find and rescue the soldiers, according to the IDF. One soldier was found quickly, but Ya'alon said the second soldier was harder to find.
    The operation sparked clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces, including firefights between the two groups. Iyad Omar Sajdiyeh, 22, a Palestinian from the refugee camp was shot in the head and killed, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Ya'alon said Sajdiyeh was armed. Ten other Palestinians were injured, as were five Israeli soldiers and border policemen.
    Israeli authorities said they would launch an investigation to find out why soldiers unfamiliar with the area were sent out. "They probably used Waze, which showed them the shortest way from Jerusalem to Ramallah. They're not familiar with the area, so we have to check who sent them on this mission, what they knew and what they didn't know," said Ya'alon.
    Waze is an Israeli technology company that Google purchased in 2013 for an estimated $1.1 billion. Waze generally does not work in the Palestinian territories, and it automatically directs drivers around the areas. But drivers can turn off the option to "Avoid Dangerous Areas" in the settings feature of the app's menu. The option comes with a warning that reads "Avoid dangerous driving areas and the A, B territories (prohibited by law for entrance of Israelis)," referring to Areas A and B, which are sections of the West Bank under full or partial Palestinian governance.
    "We will investigate this incident in order to see where there were mistakes that contributed to this situation," Ya'alon said.
    Waze spokeswoman Julie Mossler said the incident was not a result of product error:
    "The Waze application includes a specific default setting that prevents routes through areas which are marked as dangerous or prohibited for Israelis to drive through. In this case, the setting was disabled. In addition, the driver deviated from the suggested route and as a result, entered the prohibited area.
    "There were also red signs on the road in question that prohibit access to Palestinian controlled territories. It's the responsibility of every driver to adhere to road and traffic signs and obey local laws -- in this incident there were multiple layers of prevention in place.
    "Waze has and is continuing to work directly with the relevant authorities to decrease such mishaps from occurring, but unfortunately there is no ability to prevent them all together as ultimately some prudence is in the driver's hands."