Israeli settlers shot and killed a Palestinian father of four during a raid on the al-Mughayyir village in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah on Saturday night.
Palestinian officials and local media outlets reported that a group of Israeli settlers raided the village under the protection of armed Israeli soldiers — a common occurrence in areas of the West Bank located close to settlements — causing clashes to erupt with Palestinian residents of the village, who tried to fend off the settlers.
During the confrontations, a settler reportedly shot and killed 38-year-old Hamdi Saadeh Naasan.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said in a statement that Naasan, a father of four young children and a former prisoner, arrived to the hospital in critical condition and succumbed to his wounds shortly afterwards.
The ministry also said that Israeli settlers shot Naasan in his back with live ammunition.
Ma’an News Agency quoted local sources who said that Israeli settlers attempted to raid the village’s northern entrance, descending from a mountaintop into the outskirts of the village, “under the heavy protection of Israeli forces.”
In response, locals from al-Mughayyir and villagers from the nearby Khirbet Abu Falah rushed to the mountaintop in attempts to push back the settlers and prevent them from attacking the homes on the edge of the village.
“Israeli forces repeatedly fired live bullets, rubber-coated steel bullets, and stun grenades towards the Palestinians to disperse them,” Ma’an News reported, adding that at least 30 other Palestinians were injured during the attack, including six who were shot with live ammunition.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military released statements saying that a “confrontation” between settlers and Palestinians resulted in the light injury of a settler.
“Initial details suggest that shortly thereafter, a conflict erupted between Israeli civilians and Palestinians in the area, in which live rounds were fired by the civilians. One Palestinian died and several others are injured,” they said in a statement, adding that an investigation has begun.
Videos released on social media of the incident, however, corroborate Palestinian accounts of the events, showing Israeli settlers and soldiers to be the initial instigators of the confrontations.
Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the killing, saying it “will lead to serious consequences, further tension and the creation of a dangerous and uncontrollable atmosphere.”
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov, condemned the killing of Naasan on Twitter, calling it “shocking and unacceptable.”
Today’s violence in #AlMughayer is shocking & unacceptable! #Israel must put an end to settler violence & bring those responsible to justice. My thoughts & prayers go out to the family of the #Palestinian man killed & those injured. All must condemn violence, stand up to terror.
— Nickolay E. MLADENOV (@nmladenov) January 26, 2019
“Israel must put an end to settler violence & bring those responsible to justice. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the Palestinian man killed and those injured,” he said.
Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi condemned the “heinous murder” of Naasan, and held the Israeli government “fully responsible” for his death.
“The political climate in Israel negates Palestinian rights and expresses objectionable racism against the Palestinian people,” she said.
“As such, the marked escalation of terror attacks by armed groups of Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians is a natural outcome of the culture of hate and atmosphere of incitement and violence against Palestinians that this extremist Israeli government espouses and promotes.”
Al-Mughayyer is surrounded by eight Israeli settlements and outposts from all sides, and is frequently subject to settler attacks on the people of the village and their property.
Attacks like the one on Saturday night are a common occurrence in the West Bank, which is home to some 600,000 nationalistic and right-wing Israeli settlers living in illegal settlements and outposts.
Rights groups, local media, and grassroots activists have thoroughly documented such attacks, which often fit the profile of Saturday’s attack: Israeli settlers wielding guns, bats, and rocks descend on a village from a mountaintop, under the protection of the Israeli army, and attack Palestinians and their property.
2018 saw a steep rise in anti-Palestinian hate crimes carried out by Israeli settlers in the West Bank. As of mid-December, 482 such incidents had been reported, more than triple the reported 140 incidents in 2017.
Rights groups and activists have long accused the Israeli state and security officials of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israelis committing violent acts against Palestinians, who are rarely prosecuted for their crimes.
Meanwhile, Palestinian minors have repeatedly been sentenced to decades in prison if they are found guilty of attacking or killing Israelis.