Violence in the occupied West Bank persisted on Saturday with a Palestinian shooter killed by Israeli forces at a checkpoint and Israelis attacking Palestinian residents, officials on both sides said.
The latest incidents add to a mounting toll which has cost four Israeli and 16 Palestinians lives across the territory since Monday.
At the Qalandia checkpoint north of Jerusalem, Israeli police said a “suspect opened fire at the security forces”, who shot back early yesterday.
“The death of the fighter was later determined at the scene,” a police statement said.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a Palestinian fighter group, in a statement said “our heroic fighters... were able to directly target occupation (Israeli) soldiers at Qalandia checkpoint.”
The crossing serves as the main gateway used by Palestinians between annexed east Jerusalem and Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority which has partial administrative control in the West Bank.
The official Palestinian news agency Wafa identified the person shot dead as Ishaq al-Ajluni, aged 17 or 18, from the Kufr Aqab neighbourhood just north of the checkpoint.
Later yesterday, the Israeli military reported “violent friction between Israeli citizens and Palestinian” residents in the northern West Bank village of Umm Safa.
“Rocks were hurled and reports were received of Israeli citizens setting fire to Palestinian property,” an army statement said, adding that a soldier was wounded and one Israeli was arrested. The alleged arson is the latest in a series of such incidents, following Palestinian fighters killing four Israelis near a West Bank settlement on Tuesday.
The Palestinian health ministry said an ambulance “was stoned by (Israeli) settlers near the village of Umm Safa” yesterday, wounding the driver.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War and, excluding annexed east Jerusalem, the territory is now home to around 490,000 Israelis who live in settlements considered illegal under international law. The Palestinians, who seek their own independent state, want Israel to withdraw from all land it occupied in the Six-Day War and to dismantle all settlements.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to “strengthen settlements” and has expressed no interest in reviving peace talks, moribund since 2014.
Ahmed Tibi, an Arab-Israeli lawmaker, visited the West Bank village of Turmus Ayya yesterday where he inspected the damage from earlier reprisals.
“The Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves in front of those who come to burn their house and burn their wife and grandson,” he said.
Diplomats from more than 20 missions, including the European Union and the United States, visited Turmus Ayya on Friday where they condemned the attack on the village.
So far this year, violence linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has killed at least 176 Palestinians, 25 Israelis, a Ukrainian and an Italian.
The tally compiled from official sources includes combatants as well as civilians and, on the Israeli side, three members of the Arab minority.
Palestinians react during the funeral of Tareq Erdis, who died from his wounds after being shot on Friday, during an Israeli operation in the Askar refugee camp, east of Nablus on Saturday.
A Palestinian covers his face during clashes with troops after settlers attack Umm Safa village near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, on Saturday.