Two Palestinians shot dead by Israelis in occupied West Bank
Two Palestinians, including a teenager, were killed in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, hours after police apprehended two Palestinians suspected of killing three Israelis last week.
It was the latest episode of violence in weeks of Palestinian attacks in Israel and Israeli military raids in the occupied West Bank that left at least 18 Israelis and some 30 Palestinians dead.
The Palestinian died after being shot dead by Israeli soldiers as he tried to break through the security fence near a military checkpoint in the occupied West Bank. The IDF said soldiers “spotted a suspect attempting to illegally cross the security fence” near the northern West Bank town of Tulkarem and shot him. He said the man had been evacuated for medical treatment, but declined to comment on the man’s condition. The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed the death of the man.
The Israeli military also said an Israeli civilian shot a knife-wielding Palestinian who had entered a settlement in the West Bank south of Jerusalem. The Palestinian Health Ministry said Mutassim Atallah, 17, was killed in the Tekoa settlement.
The military said troops were searching for other suspects in the area, but did not provide any additional details about the incident.
In another incident, a Palestinian allegedly stabbed an Israeli policeman outside Jerusalem’s Old City. Police said the knife-wielding man stabbed the officer and other officers at the scene near Damascus Gate fired at the assailant.
Paramedics said the officer was hospitalized in moderate condition. The attacker’s condition was not immediately clear.
Sunday’s incidents were the latest in a series of violent episodes in recent weeks, including deadly attacks inside Israel, an Israeli military crackdown in the West Bank and clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians on a major holy site in Jerusalem sacred to jews and muslims.
Earlier on Sunday, Israeli police said forces captured two Palestinians who killed three people in a stabbing attack last week and fled the scene, sparking a massive manhunt and keeping the country in breath.
The two assailants carried out a stabbing attack in the ultra-Orthodox town of Elad on Israel’s Independence Day on Thursday, killing three people and injuring at least four others before fleeing.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told his cabinet that the forces captured “incitement-inundated terrorists who killed with axes and unimaginable cruelty”.
He said Israel was entering a “new stage in the war on terror”, and said Israel was in the process of establishing a civilian national guard that would be deployed in emergencies like the type of attacks the country has witnessed in recent weeks.
“The main objective of the Israeli government is to restore the personal security of Israeli citizens,” he said.
A joint statement from police, military and the Shin Bet internal security agency said the men, identified as 19 and 20-year-old Palestinians, were arrested near a quarry not far from Elad following a search that began Thursday by special forces and commando units using helicopters and other means.
Footage in Israeli media showed masked security forces confronting the men, who appeared to be under a green shrub in a hilly patch of land.
As forces scoured the area for the men, police called on the public to avoid the area and urged Israelis to report suspicious vehicles or people to them.
Police said the attackers came from near the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, which has re-emerged as a militant stronghold in the latest wave of violence – the worst Israel has seen in years. Many of the attackers in the recent violence come from Jenin.
The Israeli army said it had started preparations to demolish the homes of the two suspects in the village of Rummanah. Israel says the policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinians who kill Israelis serves to deter would-be attackers, while rights groups say it amounts to collective punishment.
At least 18 Israelis have been killed in five attacks since March, including another stabbing attack in southern Israel, two shootings in the Tel Aviv area and a shooting last weekend in a West Bank settlement.
Most of the Palestinians who died in the violence had carried out attacks or were involved in clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank. But an unarmed woman and two apparent bystanders were also among those killed and rights groups say Israel often uses excessive force.
The violence has been fueled by tensions at a hilltop compound in Jerusalem sacred to Muslims and Jews, where Palestinians recently clashed with Israeli police.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is the third holiest site in Islam and is built on a hill that is the holiest site to Jews, who call it the Temple Mount. It is at the emotional heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.