JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israel Defense Forces opened fire on a vehicle near Hevron early Friday morning, killing one passenger and injuring three others.
Rabbi Dan Mertzbach, 55, a resident of Otniel, died of a gunshot wound to the head at the scene. Mertzbach, who leaves behind a wife, five children, and 10 grandchildren, was buried at the Mount of Olives on Friday.
The rabbi and several others were en route to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron to pray around 5:30 a.m. Friday.
An IDF unit stationed close to the Jewish community of Beit Hagai first noticed the vehicle on Highway 60, driving slowly without headlights and its flashers on, and alerted an IDF command post near Kiryat Arba.
Soldiers set up a temporary roadblock south of Hevron, where it signaled the car to pull over. When the vehicle sped past them, one soldier, fearing for his life, fired eight shots at the car, killing the driver and moderately wounding two passengers.
As the troops ran toward the disabled vehicle, a truck coming from the other direction hit one of the soldiers, injuring him enough to be transported to Soroka Hospital in Beersheva for treatment. The truck, driven by an Arab, did not stop. The IDF is tracing the vehicle's whereabouts.
An initial investigation ordered by IDF Central Command had Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrachi revealed that Rabbi Mertzbach did not see the soldiers signaling him to pull over.
The Defense Ministry classified the incident as a terror-related event, which will allow the rabbi's family to receive compensation from the government.