Palestinian aids Israeli soldier left behind in raid

Fri Feb 3, 2012 5:40pm GMT

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli soldier stranded after a raid in occupied territory was escorted to safety by a Palestinian man in the same village the troops had targeted, witnesses and media reports said.

The Israeli military said Friday a battalion commander had been suspended from duties for the soldier having been abandoned on enemy turf in the raid this week, an infraction which Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz saw as a "serious incident."

Soldiers had raided Boudros village near the West Bank city of Ramallah to confront stone-throwing protesters against a barrier built on West Bank land, which Israel calls a security measure and Palestinians condemn as a land-grab.

In the stormy weather, a soldier charged with guarding a street ended up isolated from his peers and was unaware when they withdrew from the area, reports and witnesses said.

A Palestinian man identified as Mohammed said he went to tell a soldier he noticed standing alone on a village road that the others had withdrawn.

The soldier "seemed confused and his face turned red," Mohammed said, adding he then escorted the soldier toward his own home where other soldiers later picked him up.

Israeli media said the soldier, armed with a personal weapon, had been isolated from his unit for half an hour. A military spokeswoman called it "a matter of minutes" before he was reunited with other troops.

Ayyed Morrar, a local activist in Boudros, told an Israeli television station of the assistance given the soldier:

"We oppose the occupation and are willing to pay the price for freedom, but not in a way that leads to killing."   Continued...

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