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Two Israeli Commanders Resign

August 31, 2000

JERUSALEM (AP) _ The top Israeli army commander in the West Bank and the leader of an elite undercover unit submitted their resignations over a botched attempt to capture a top Islamic militant, the army said Thursday.

Three Israeli soldiers were killed in the raid, apparently by friendly fire. The fugitive, Hamas bombmaker Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, escaped to Palestinian-controlled areas where he surrendered to Palestinian police.

Later Thursday, the armed forces chief of staff, Lt. Col. Shaul Mofaz, was to publish the findings of an investigation into the Duvdevan unit’s raid of Abu Hanoud’s hideout in the West Bank village of Assira Ashmaliah last Saturday.

``We’ve had blunders over the years, ″ Mofaz told Israel army radio. ``We haven’t had such a blunder in Duvdevan in recent years.″

The commander of forces in the West Bank, Brig. Gen. Shlomo Oren, and the leader of Duvdevan, identified only as Lt. Col. Micky, submitted their resignations, the army said. It was not immediately clear whether Mofaz would accept them.

The Haaretz daily said Thursday that the three soldiers killed in the raid had either misunderstood or ignored orders not to take up position on the roof of a house next door to the building where Abu Hanoud and another suspect were hiding.

Abu Hanoud spotted soldiers and fired at them, the daily said. Several soldiers returned fire, wounding Abu Hanoud and the Palestinian man with him.

Israeli snipers mistook the three Duvdevan fighters on the roof for Palestinian militants and opened fire, the Haaretz daily said. In the ensuing confusion, Abu Hanoud was able to escape.

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