March 17, 2003

Initial inquiry into events of 15 March at Rafah
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

IDF forces were taking down shrubbery along the border between Israel and Egypt at Rafah in the Gaza Strip, in an effort to uncover explosive devices. This was done as part of the ongoing activity against the threat of explosive devices and tunnels in the border area which is under full Israeli security and administrative control, under the Oslo Agreement.

Some tens of protesters demonstrated in the off-limits area during operational activity.

To prevent harm to the protesters, the IDF moved away from them, but the protesters approached the forces. The forces also called to the protesters to disperse.

An initial inquiry indicates that an IDF bulldozer apparently ran over a protester accidentally.

It is important to stress that, as the windows of the bulletproof bulldozer are very small, the visibility is very limited and the bulldozer operator did not see the woman.

The IDF expresses sorrow and continues to investigate the incident.