From his hospital bed, Yehuda Stein recounts incident in which soldiers opened fire at his car after mistaking him for Palestinian terrorist; ‘I saw a bullet flying through the windshield and near my head, I had a miracle’

A West Bank settler, whose vehicle was shot near the city of Ramallah by security forces who mistook him for a Palestinian terrorist, said on Tuesday he thought he was in the midst of a terror attack.

“I drove in the morning to class when an Arab driver hit my car,” said Yehuda Stein from Sheba Medical Center where he was treated for light wounds he sustained during the incident.

יהודה שטיין שנפצע בתאונה ליד רמאללה: ״כשירו עליי חשבתי שזה פיגוע״
Yehuda Stein at Sheba Medical Center (Photo: Roi Rubinstein)


“He hit the front of my car and I lost control, swerving towards an IDF jeep.”

At that point, Shin Bet security agency officers assumed the driver was attempting to run them over and opened fire at the windshield of the vehicle.

“All of a sudden I heard booms and a bullet flew through the windshield,” he said. “I saw the hole and realized someone was shooting at me. The only bullet I saw flew about 20-30 cm (8-12 inches) from my head.”

Stein was not hit by gunfire although he did sustain mild injuries from the initial car crash and shrapnel.

Stein said that at that point he stopped his car and bowed down his head.

ירי של כוח בטחוני על רכב ישראלי
Stein’s car at the scene of the incident (Photo: TPS)


“I was sure the Palestinian driver from earlier was shooting at me, that it was a terror attack.”

After Stein stopped his vehicle, soldiers approached him and ordered him to get on the ground. Stein clarified he was Jewish, at which point, the troops put down their weapons and provided him with treatment.

The 18-year-old suffered several bruises from the accident and from shrapnel.

“A piece of shrapnel hit me in the chest, there was a lot of blood and [the soldiers] helped me,” he said from his hospital bed. “I then realized that they probably shot me by mistake. I was scared, but they shot me for a reason and I understand them.”

ירי של כוח בטחוני על רכב ישראלי
The scene of the mistaken shooting (Photo: TPS)


Stein said he believed that the officer was probably standing with his back to the scene and instinctively ordered to open fire because he thought it was a ramming attack.

“He wanted to neutralize me. It was a miracle,” he added.

The Shin Bet said shortly after the incident that this was a case of mistaken identity.

“During an operation in the Bir Zeit area, a vehicle drove rapidly towards the forces after hitting another vehicle. The forces that thought this was a car-ramming attack and opened fire,” the Shin Bet said.

ירי של כוח בטחוני על רכב ישראלי
A bullet hole is seen in the car’s windshield


“No one was hurt in the shooting. A preliminary investigation on the ground showed that this was not an attempted attack.”

The shooting took place amid heightened tensions following the murder of Israeli Esther Horgan in the West Bank on Sunday in what is believed to have been a terror attack.

The incident at the checkpoint occurred while her funeral was underway.

The military has also bolstered its troops in the area in the wake of Horgan’s murder in order to offer more protection to the local settlements.

As reported by Ynetnews