Israeli security forces kill Palestinian who opened fire at military checkpoint
A Palestinian assailant opened fire at an Israeli military checkpoint in the occupied West Bank before being shot dead, Israeli police have said.
The Palestinian gunman approached Israeli troops stationed at the Qalandiya checkpoint outside Jerusalem early on Saturday morning, pulled out an M16 rifle and opened fire.
Security forces said they shot back, killing the suspected assailant. According to the Israeli rescue service, two security guards in their 20s were taken to hospital with minor wounds – at least one from bullet fragments. There was no immediate word on the attacker’s identity.
Later on Saturday, residents of the Palestinian village of Umm Safa said that 50 Israeli settlers armed with rifles and flammable liquid stormed through the streets and tried to set fire to at least five homes with people inside.
Palestinian rescue teams said they evacuated small children who were suffocating and trapped inside a burning house.
Some settlers also opened fire at civilians and medics. A local station, Palestine TV, said settlers fired at Mohammed Radi, its correspondent covering the attacks, shattering his camera. The Palestinian Red Crescent said that one of its medics was wounded by gunfire.
Another two medics were wounded when settlers threw a large rock at an ambulance, which crashed through the windshield.
Israeli settlers also shot dead a horse in the village, said resident Ibrahim Ebiat. “This is pure terror,” he said. “People are scared and angry.”
Young Palestinians threw threw rocks at Israeli forces who opened fire and unleashed tear gas at them, reports said.
The German ambassador to Israel, Steffen Seibert, said he was “shocked” by Saturday’s outbreak of settler violence. “Recent terror attacks cannot serve as an excuse for this,” he said.
The incidents cap a bloody week in the West Bank that has left 15 Palestinians and four Israelis dead.
A gun battle lasting hours between Israeli security forces and Palestinian militants in the northern Jenin refugee camp killed seven Palestinians and wounded eight Israeli soldiers earlier this week.
Two Palestinian gunmen then killed four Israeli civilians before being shot and killed.
Then, a rare Israeli air strike by a pilotless drone killed three Palestinian militants in a car while Israeli settler revenge attacks left one Palestinian dead and many wounded in Palestinian towns.
The spiralling violence has increased pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government, with its hard-liners calling for a broad military operation against Palestinian militants, as well as on the Palestinian Authority, which has come under criticism for failing to protect Palestinian civilians.
This year has been one of the deadliest for Palestinians in the West Bank in years.
At least 136 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank so far in 2023, according to a tally by The Associated Press, nearly half of them affiliated with militant groups.
As of Saturday, 24 people on the Israeli side have been killed in Palestinian attacks, most of them civilians.
Israel says most of the Palestinian dead this year were militants, but stone-throwing youths protesting against the incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.
Israel captured the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Middle East war.
The Palestinians seek those territories for a future independent state.
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