The church is located near the village of Abud, some 15 kilometers (nine miles) northwest of Ramallah.
“Nothing made us think that it was a church; it looked like a grotto,” an Israeli army spokesman told the press, explaining that the soldiers were looking for Palestinian suspects.
“Once inside they saw a cross, realized it was a place of worship, and left the place,” the spokesman added. He said the army apologized to the Palestinians in charge.
Residents of Abud and Palestinian authorities said the church was destroyed by the explosion. They said it was the medieval Orthodox Church of St. Barbara, restored several years ago, although it was not used daily.