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Waze leads mobbed Israeli soldiers astray, but defense minister blames ‘hatred’

Click photo to download. Caption: A crowd of Palestinians, including some who are armed and masked, in the Qalandiya refugee camp on July 3, 2015. Credit: Flash90.
Click photo to download. Caption: A crowd of Palestinians, including some who are armed and masked, in the Qalandiya refugee camp on July 3, 2015. Credit: Flash90.

By Lilach Shoval, Daniel Siryoti, Yori Yalon/Israel Hayom/

Five Israeli Border Police officers were injured when security forces entered the Qalandiya refugee camp, north of Jerusalem, on Monday night to rescue two non-combat Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers who had accidentally driven into the area and were attacked by a local Palestinian mob that stoned and firebombed their vehicle.

The two Oketz K-9 unit soldiers arrived in Qalandiya around 11 p.m., after having apparently taken a wrong turn when using the Waze navigation app. The pair apparently split up in an effort to escape after their vehicle was set on fire by rioters.

“There was an issue here with technology, but the real issue was hatred,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Tuesday. “Two soldiers accidentally drove onto a road to Jerusalem that passes through Ramallah. They were pelted with stones and Molotov cocktails….We will investigate the incident and look into the errors that led to this complication. Technology may have been involved in the incident, but it was also used in the rescue efforts. The soldiers who got lost were using Waze, and they took the shortest route, which passed through a hostile area. Even in the GPS age, one should know how to navigate with a map.”

IDF troops sent to recover the non-combat soldiers were able to contact one of the soldiers almost immediately. He was hiding in a nearby yard and was found within half an hour. The second soldier, who could not be reached for about an hour, was considered to be missing, raising concern that he might have been abducted. Security forces combed the area, while also subduing the riot that had broken out in the camp. At around midnight, the second soldier was found unharmed in the nearby town of Kochav Yaakov, where he had fled.

Meanwhile, soldiers clashed with Palestinians in Qalandiya, with live fire exchanged between the sides. Five border policemen were hurt in the incident and taken to Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital in Jerusalem. According to the hospital, one border policeman sustained moderate injuries, and the other four were lightly wounded.

According to reports, one Palestinian was killed and several others were wounded in the clashes.

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that IDF troops denied ambulances’ entry to the area to treat wounded Palestinians. A Palestinian official criticized the IDF’s rescue efforts, saying, “Had they allowed us, we would have returned the soldiers unharmed. We could have prevented the exchange of fire that broke out and the injuries on our side. This could have been a blood bath for both sides.”

The IDF was set to investigate the incident on Tuesday in an effort to determine, among other things, how the soldiers ended up in the area, whether standard military directive concerning potential abducted soldiers was employed, why the pair split up after being attacked, and whether security forces’ actions following the incident were appropriate.

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz told Army Radio on Tuesday, “We will need to investigate how they got there. We are dealing with issues regarding the quality of Waze and of the difficulties that could result from it.”

He added, “Both soldiers were armed, as far as we know. From what we understand, one soldier used his weapon to protect himself and to signal security forces. [Based on] the initial investigation and considering how the incident concluded, it appears the soldiers acted reasonably.”

This article is part of the exclusive syndication agreement between and Israel Hayom.

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