Israeli settler kills Palestinian who army says attempted stabbing, amid rise in violence


Al-Mughayyir (Reuters) – An Israeli settler shot dead a Palestinian man who the military said tried to carry out a stabbing attack in a settlement in the occupied West Bank on Friday.

The incident came as several European countries condemned Israeli demolitions and settler violence in the West Bank, which flared again as Palestinian farmers said Jewish settlers fired at them while they were working on their agriculture land.

The military said a suspect infiltrated the gated area in the southern West Bank near the city of Hebron on Friday morning and tried to stab a resident before being “neutralised”. There were no Israeli casualties, it said.

The Palestinian health ministry said it was informed by the unit that coordinates civilian affairs with Israel that 28-year-old Alaa Qaysiyeh was shot dead “by the occupation” south of Hebron.

Israeli media said the incident occurred as people in the settlement of Teneh Omarim were gathering for prayers for the Jewish Shavuot festival.

A video obtained by Reuters showed a man crawling underneath a closed metal gate apparently holding an object that the army said was a knife. In another video, soldiers were seen sealing a synagogue with red tape.

Qaysiyeh’s sister-in-law, Nana, told Reuters that the youngest of nine siblings worked intermittently, largely kept to himself and was not a member of any armed groups. She said his brother Murad, her husband, was released six months ago after 17 years in an Israeli prison on accusations of firing at a settlement and wounding three people.

No armed groups claimed Qaysiyeh as a member.

Israeli-Palestinian violence has surged for more than a year, with frequent Israeli military raids and settler violence in the West Bank amid a spate of Palestinian attacks on Israelis.

Since January, more than 140 Palestinians and at least 19 Israelis and foreigners have been killed.

Israel occupied the West Bank, which Palestinians want as the core of an independent state, in the 1967 Middle East war. U.S.-sponsored statehood talks have been frozen since 2014, while Israel has maintained military rule over millions of Palestinians and continued to expand Jewish settlements.

Cars Torched

Later on Friday, Bashar al-Qaryuti, a field researcher with the St. Yves rights group, said Jewish settlers harassed Palestinian farmers in three different areas of the West Bank, with the backing of Israeli soldiers.

The Israeli military said it did no have any immediate comment.

In the village of al-Mughayyir near the city of Ramallah, President Mahmoud Abbas’s seat of power, Palestinians said settlers fired and hurled stones at them as they were tending to their land, then torched their cars, setting off clashes.

“We were moving bales of hay when the settlers arrived with soldiers and started firing at us,” said Murad Abu Alia, who said he counted at least 25 settlers who descended from the illegal outpost of Adei Ad.

Attaf al-Naasan told Reuters the settlers poured fuel on his car and set it on fire as the soldiers watched and prevented him from reaching it.

A Reuters witness saw at least four torched cars, bloodstains on the road and part of a field set ablaze.

The Palestinian health ministry said it was treating five people who arrived from al-Mughayyir, one with a critical bullet wound in the head and four others who were hit by stones and were in a stable condition.

The military said Israelis and Palestinians hurled stones at each other in the area, resulting in injuries on both sides. It said the Israelis also fired into the air and set several cars on fire, and the forces responded using riot dispersal means.

A European Union delegation to the Palestinians issued statements condemning Friday’s settler violence and calling on Israel to “halt all confiscations and demolitions in the occupied West Bank, to return or compensate for donor funded humanitarian items and to give unimpeded humanitarian access”.

The military said an Israeli girl arrived to the West Bank settlement of Kochav Yaakov for medical treatment Friday night after apparently being hit by indirect gunfire. It did not elaborate on the source of the shooting but said its forces scanned the area and found no security breach.

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