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Four Palestinians, two Israeli soldiers killed in a day of violence in the West Bank

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Four Palestinians and two Israelis were killed between Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon in a series of attacks and search and arrest operations in the central occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In the late hours of Wednesday night, Israeli special forces raided the Ramallah-area town of Surda to detain 29-year-old Saleh Omar Barghouthi, who the Israelis claim was responsible for a shooting attack on Sunday near the Ofra settlement that left seven Israelis injured.

Barghouthi was reportedly injured while attempting to flee, and later succumbed to his wounds. His body has yet to be returned to his family.

Israeli media and officials have widely reported that Barghouthi’s father, Omar Barghouthi, is a senior Hamas leader in the West Bank, implying that his affiliation with Hamas could have influenced his alleged participation in the attack.

Barghouthi’s family members however told both Haaretz and Middle East Eye that Saleh was not influenced by his father’s politics, and casted doubts as to whether Saleh was the actual perpetrator of Sunday’s attack.

A few hours after Barghouthi was killed, Israeli special forces conducted a second operation in the Askar refugee camp in Nablus, in the northern West Bank, where they killed 23-year-old Ashraf Na’alwa, who had been on the run from Israeli security forces for two months.

Na’alwa shot and killed two Israelis in October in the Barkan Industrial Zone in the West Bank, where he worked.

The families of the Israeli victims have openly supported plans by the Israeli government to punitively demolish Na’alwa’s family home, and have called for his family to be expelled from Palestine in order to “deter copycat attacks.”

A week ago, the Israeli High Court rejected a petition by Na’alwa’s family appealing the decision to demolish their home.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has fast-tracked punitive home demolitions in an effort to “deter” attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals since a wave of unrest peaked in the occupied Palestinian territory in late 2015.

The move came despite past recommendations by an Israeli military committee that the practice did not deter attacks.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem has condemned the practice of punitive home demolitions as “court-sanctioned revenge” carried out on family members who have not committed crimes, amounting to collective punishment.

In a separate, seemingly unrelated incident on Thursday around 5am, Israeli border police forces shot and killed a young Palestinian man in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, after he attempted to stab the soldiers.

The slain Palestinian was identified as Majd Mteir, 25, from the Qalandiya refugee camp in Ramallah. Two Israeli officers were reportedly lightly wounded in the incident.

Later on Thursday afternoon, in what is being reported as a “revenge attack” for the three Palestinians who were killed overnight, alleged Palestinian attackers opened fire on a settler bus stop near the Ofra settlement, north of Ramallah.

Two Israelis soldiers were killed, while another soldier and settler were severely injured. The attacker fled the scene, leading Israeli security forces to enforce massive closures in and around the Ramallah area.

Shortly after the attack, local Palestinian media reported that Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian vehicles in the Nablus district, near the notoriously violent Yitzhar settlement, in an “alleged revenge attack.”

Videos on social media showed the settlers running across the major road hurling large rocks at stopped Palestinian cars, as Israeli security personnel stand by in the background.

Ma’an News Agency reported that three Palestinian cars were attacked, resulting in the injury of one Palestinian.

At around 4:45 pm on Thursday, reports emerged saying that another Palestinian had been shot and killed in the town of al-Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah, where Israeli soldiers were heavily deployed.

The Israeli army claimed that the Palestinian was attempting to carry out a car ramming attack, but witnesses told Ma’an News Agency that it was “merely a car accident, as the driver was surprised with Israeli soldiers in his way and attempted to turn away from them before the heavily opened fire at him.”

Palestinian activists and rights groups have over the years casted doubt on a number of incidents in which Israeli forces killed a Palestinian while driving, saying that what could have been a car accident was wrongfully interpreted by the soldiers as an attempted attack.

Meanwhile, clashes broke out between Palestinian youth and Israeli soldiers in several areas across the central and northern occupied West Bank, in response to the heavily increased Israeli presence in the areas.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society reported that between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Israeli forces arrested 56 Palestinians from across the occupied territory.

In the center of Ramallah city, demonstrations erupted calling for another intifada.

As the day’s events unfolded, Israeli media and officials pointed largely to Hamas as being responsible for this week’s shooting attacks, saying Hamas was attempting to send a message just a day before the anniversary of the group’s founding.

Hamas did express its support for the attacks, but stopped short of claiming responsibility. The group released a statement on Thursday welcoming “the heroic action which is a response to the crimes of the occupation and its behavior,” adding that “the youth of the West Bank will continue to fight.”

While the right-wing Israeli government and aligned media institutions have largely perpetuated the narrative of  Palestinian assailants who are incited to violence whether by formal political affiliations or by peers on social media, analysts have dismissed the narrative as being overly simplistic.

Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon as reasons for the outbreak of violence that started in October 2015, and has intermittently continued since.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman took to Twitter to condemn the attacks, saying that the Palestinian Authority (PA) “maintains laws that will compensate these terrorists and their families for their heinous acts. The PA can be a political body OR a sponsor of terror, not both.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the latest round of violence, criticizing both Israeli and Palestinian actions.

In a statement, Abbas accused Israel of “creating a climate conducive to violence through its frequent military operations in Palestinian cities.”

yumnapatel
About Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is a multimedia journalist based in Bethlehem, Palestine. Follow her on Twitter at @yumna_patel

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9 Responses

  1. oldgeezer
    oldgeezer on December 13, 2018, 3:06 pm

    The soldiers are legit targets.

    Israel should stop mixing it’s soldiers in with civilians. Sad to see the civilians hurt but they are mere collateral damage.

    Surely someone in the idf must find the Israeli policy of encouraging civilians to settle in an active conflict zone reprehensible.

    As some GoI cabinet members have noted the settlements are part of the Israel’s defense. So as a policy they are using them as using human shields.

    Nah I don’t mean all of that. It’s as heartless as your run of the mill zionist talking about Palestinian civilian deaths.

    At least Israeli civilians don’t need to live in the conflict zone but do so willingly. Palestinians have no choice because Israel denies them one.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso on December 14, 2018, 9:32 am

      @oldgeezer, et al

      For the record:

      https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20181207-israel-killed-24-palestinians-in-november/

      “Israel killed 24 Palestinians in November” Middle East Monitor, Dec. 7/18

      “Twenty-four Palestinians were killed, including three children, by Israeli occupation forces in the occupied territories in November, the PLO’s Centre for Study and Documentation revealed in a report today.

      “Twenty-one of those killed were struck in the besieged Gaza Strip while the remaining were in the occupied West Bank. Israeli occupation forces are withholding the bodies of 35 who were killed; in violation of international humanitarian law.

      “Some 450 Palestinians were arrested in the same period, including 12 from the Gaza Strip.

      “Israeli occupation forces also injured 850 people with live and metal bullets and tear gas; 490 in the Gaza Strip, and approximately 360 in the West Bank and Jerusalem. They included journalists who suffered suffocation as a result of the occupation’s targeting of the International Federation of Journalists (ICJ) at the Qalandia checkpoint as they called on press cards to be respected and for them to be allowed to do their job.

      “Israel also approved the construction of 640 settlement units in the Ramat Shlomo settlement on Palestinian land in Shuafat, in occupied East Jerusalem.”

      • oldgeezer
        oldgeezer on December 14, 2018, 11:09 am

        @Misterioso
        ““Israel also approved the construction of 640 settlement ……”

        Of course that isn’t incitement. Oh no. If it wasn’t for incitement the Palestinians would not have any reason to resort to violence.

        Shaking my head.

        (ok… technically it is probably provocation)

  2. annie
    annie on December 13, 2018, 4:07 pm

    haaretz reported this morning “Netanyahu to Legalize Thousands of Jewish Homes in West Bank” https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-netanyahu-to-legalize-thousands-of-jewish-homes-in-west-bank-after-2-soldiers-killed-1.6744585

    also (google translate) https://twitter.com/AlMayadeenNews/status/1073165574002352128
    “Al-Mayadeen correspondent: Israeli settlers killed a settler who believed that he was one of the perpetrators of the operation.”

    only place i have read that.

    • oldgeezer
      oldgeezer on December 14, 2018, 11:11 am

      @annie

      Retroactively legalizing illegal structures while they tear down Palestinian homes and businesses for failure to obtain a permit is just another symptom of apartheid.

      Also shows how criminal Israeli leaders are.

      • annie
        annie on December 14, 2018, 12:18 pm

        yes i know old geezer, and as i mentioned yesterday on twitter:

      • annie
        annie on December 14, 2018, 12:30 pm

        actually i should have checked the translation. this was the first i read about the 1000 new settlements, it came out in arabic prior to haaretz. but the quote should have been “response” not revenge. the idea they are colonizing the entirety of the land as a response to palestinian resistance flips the narrative. they are using the resistance to their colonization as the cause of it.

        when ayelet shaked called to legalize ofra, she tweeted “Every terror attack will strengthen the settlements..every potential attacker will know in advance he will be considered responsible for strengthening settlements.” yet israel strengthens settlements regardless. it’s twisted, it’s sadistic.

      • oldgeezer
        oldgeezer on December 14, 2018, 9:37 pm

        @annie

        Response or revenge it is a form of collective punishment aimed at people who were not responsible for the attack.

        The IHRA condemns holding Israelis to account for their government actions. As the Geneva also prohibits collective punishment.

        But the slime and sleazeballs in Israel love using it.

        Nope…. No more double standards for Israel. They have benefitted and profited from them for far too long.

  3. oldgeezer
    oldgeezer on December 13, 2018, 10:47 pm

    “Netanyahu also said “Our guiding principle is that whoever attacks us and whoever tries to attack us will pay with his life,” adding that “Our enemies know this and we will find them.”

    Sounds like an admission of an official policy of extrajudicial murder to me.

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-netanyahu-to-legalize-thousands-of-jewish-homes-in-west-bank-after-2-soldiers-killed-1.674458

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