Ten seconds that shook the Middle East

Gunman who thought he could keep city for Jews

Palestinians dived to the ground in panic and shouted "massacre" when an Israeli soldier opened fire in all directions at the vegetable market in the heart of Hebron. The off-duty soldier, who lives in a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem, emptied the clip of his M-16 automatic rifle into the crowded open-air market before other soldiers overpowered him.

Noam Friedman, 19, fired for almost 10 seconds into the market on Martyrs Street, wounding men, women and a youth, witnesses and doctors said.

At first, panic and confusion gripped everyone - Arabs, soldiers and Jewish settlers. The Jews thought they were under attack and began firing around the market. Police and soldiers rushed to the scene from the nearby Jewish enclave of Avraham Avinu, and witnesses said at least one Palestinian was wounded by them.

However, as it dawned on the Israelis that they were not the target, soldiers crept towards the gunman. A few Palestinians also moved towards him in an attempt to bring him down.

Avi Buskila, an Israeli lieutenant, got there first. "When he entered the area of the square and began shooting, I stood at my post and heard the shots. Within 10 seconds I pinned him to the ground and took his gun," Lt Buskila said.

Even while on the ground the gunman tried to load a second magazine into his rifle. Soldiers then dragged him to a military jeep. "It happened right in front of me," said Walid Kafisheh, 46, a stallholder. "I tried to stop him but the soldiers got to him first. Then soldiers and police came from everywhere shooting."

Abdel Karim Atrash, 16, was selling aubergines when he was hit by gunfire. "I turned and saw a soldier in uniform. I tried to run but felt a pain in my leg." Friedman fired between 10 and 15 rounds, witnesses said.

The director of Hebron's Alia Hospital initially said 11 Palestinians were wounded, but hospital officials later said that five people were hit by bullets, and nine others were hurt in beatings by Israeli troops.

Friedman, who was off-duty at the time of the shooting, is from the Maaleh Adumim settlement near Jerusalem. He was drafted five months ago and served in a logistics unit in Israel. He was not assigned to duty in Hebron.

A senior Israeli army commander said Friedman did guard duty on Tuesday night at his base near Jerusalem, and got on a bus to Hebron yesterday morning. He wore a skullcap and a white fringed undershirt, both of which are symbols of a religious Jew.

Later, Friedman was defiant. He said he acted to sabotage the handover to the PLO of the town that he said was bought for the Jews 4,000 years ago by the biblical figure of Abraham. "Abraham bought the Cave of the Patriarchs for 400 shekels of silver. No one will return it," said Friedman, triumphantly waving his fist in the air.

The cave, which, is holy to Jews, is to remain under Israeli control along with all Jewish holy places, after Israel withdraws from 80 per cent of Hebron. However, the cave is also a holy site to Muslims, who call it the Haram al-Ibrahimi. In February 1994, Baruch Goldstein, a Jew from the nearby Kiryat Arba settlement, massacred 29 Palestinians kneeling in prayer at al-Ibrahimi mosque before survivors beat him to death.

Friedman's defiance brought to mind another right-wing religious Israeli, Yigal Amir, who murdered the former prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, 14 months ago in an attempt to halt a land-for-peace deal with Yasser Arafat. "Bibi [Netanyahu] remains alone, without Jews behind him," Friedman said in remarks that echoed Amir.

Yesterday, the army poured troops into Hebron and put armoured personnel carriers on surrounding hills to prevent reprisals. It also imposed a brief curfew. Youths burned tyres and clashed with soldiers briefly after the shooting but the streets quickly emptied.

Hebron's Palestinian political leaders issued a statement after the shooting saying there could be no peace while the 400 settlers remained among the 100,000 Palestinians. "The only solution for Hebron is to evacuate these fanatics." the statement said.

Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam