Israeli forces kill Palestinian in West Bank as violence spikes

Israeli forces kill Palestinian in West Bank as violence spikes

Politics

Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian on Friday during clashes in the flashpoint occupied West Bank city of Hebron, the latest in a surge of violence, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The clashes come amid heightened tensions ahead of the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and as days of deadly violence in Israel and the occupied West Bank have raised fears of an escalation.

Clashes erupted in the centre of Hebron between Palestinian residents and Israeli forces, an AFP journalist said.

A 29-year-old Palestinian was shot and killed “with live ammunition”, the ministry said in a brief statement.

The Palestinian Wafa news agency identified the man as Ahmad al-Atrash, who it said was taking part in a protest against Israeli settlements and had previously served six years in an Israeli prison.

The Israeli army said that during a “riot” in Hebron, “a suspect hurled a Molotov cocktail” at soldiers, who “responded with live fire”.

Hebron, the biggest city in the West Bank, is home to about 1,000 Jewish residents living under heavy Israeli military protection, among more than 200,000 Palestinians.

It hosts a disputed holy site, known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi mosque and to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarch, which is revered by both faiths.

Islamist movement Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, said it was “mourning” Atrash who had spent years in Israeli jails.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said it also treated 70 people wounded in clashes with the Israeli army in the Nablus area of the northern West Bank.

On Thursday, Israeli security forces raided the West Bank city of Jenin after three fatal attacks rocked the Jewish state.

Two Palestinians were killed in clashes, the health ministry said.

Elsewhere in the West Bank the same day, a Palestinian man who stabbed and seriously wounded an Israeli civilian with a screwdriver on a bus was shot dead south of the city of Bethlehem.

The spike in violence followed an attack on Tuesday night in Bnei Brak, an Orthodox Jewish city near Tel Aviv.

A Palestinian with an M-16 assault rifle killed two Israeli civilians, two Ukranian nationals and an Israeli-Arab policeman.

‘We will act in every way possible to stop attacks’

A total of 11 people have been killed in anti-Israeli attacks since March 22, including some carried out by assailants linked to or inspired by the Islamic State group for the first time.

Army chief Aviv Kohavi said Friday from the West Bank that “we will continue to act in every way possible to stop attacks — that is our mission”.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who was also in the West Bank to meet with military officials, said Israeli forces would continue to “carry out arrests and defence and attack operations”.

“We will get hold of those who try to harm Israeli citizens,” he said.

Gantz was in Jordan earlier this week where he met King Abdullah II in a bid to seek calm ahead of Ramadan.

Tensions flared last year during Ramadan between Israeli forces and Palestinians visiting Al-Aqsa mosque in annexed east Jerusalem, leading to 11 days of bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the Six-Day War of 1967.

It has since built a string of settlements across the territory that are considered illegal under international law but are home to some 475,000 Israelis.

Jordan, which established ties with Israel in 1994, has traditionally played the role of mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.

The kingdom also serves as custodian of the holy places in east Jerusalem, which Israel seized in 1967 and later annexed in a move not recognised by most of the international community.

On Wednesday, Abdullah met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah, in his first visit to the West Bank since 2017, also to discuss ways of containing unrest during Ramadan.

Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians have been frozen for years.

(AFP)

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