Videos shared on social media showed a large group of Palestinians assailing the soldiers, one female and one male, as they cried out in desperation.
“Almost all of the different security forces in Jenin, including the police, the national security forces, intelligence and others, were ordered to take to the streets and ensure the well-being of the soldiers,” the security official told The Jerusalem Post in a phone interview.
More than 100 members of the PA security forces, in civilian and official attire, worked together to bring the soldiers to safety, according to the official.
“Our forces pushed the boys on the street away from the soldiers. We then put the soldiers in one of our police cars and brought them to the Israeli authorities in the Civil Administration,” he said. “We also returned the military vehicle to the Israelis.”
صور: فلسطينيون يبرحون ضرباً جندياً ومجندة من جيش الاحتلال ويغتنمون سلاحاً منهما في مدينة جنين، قبل قليل. pic.twitter.com/ghzE9ow1NY— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) February 12, 2018
Both soldiers were wounded and transported to a hospital for treatment and one of their weapons was stolen, according to an IDF statement.
Pictures on social media showed the female soldier’s face covered in blood and the army vehicle’s windshield shattered.
An initial investigation found that the two soldiers entered Jenin because of “a navigation error,” an army spokeswoman said.
صورة: إصابة مجندة إسرائيلية بعد ضربها على يد فلسطينيين واغتنام سلاحها في مدينة جنين، قبل قليل. pic.twitter.com/uWdXYc44z0— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) February 12, 2018
Later on Monday, the female soldier said that Palestinians attempted to “lynch” her, Channel 2 reported.
The Palestinian security official added that the PA security forces protected the soldiers for two major reasons: “First, we intervened because we do not want anyone to die, regardless of their background. We believe that protecting the soldiers was a humanitarian issue. Second, we want to protect our people. If the soldiers were, God forbid, killed, the Israeli army would wreak havoc in Jenin. We have no interest in returning to the days of the Second Intifada,” he said.
The IDF spokeswoman declined to comment on the role the PA security forces played in evacuating the soldiers from Jenin.
PA security forces frequently hand over Israelis, including soldiers, who mistakenly enter Palestinian towns in the West Bank, to Israeli authorities.
According to PA Police chief Hazem Attallah, between January 1 and November 8, 2017, PA security forces returned 564 Israelis to authorities after they accidentally entered Palestinian towns.