Israeli forces, armed settlers kill 3 Palestinians in rising West Bank violence

Armed Israeli settlers shot dead two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Monday, hours after Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teen during a military raid, officials said.

Monday’s violence brought to eight the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces or armed settlers since Friday, as Palestinian authorities reported increased settler rampages across the West Bank.

Salah Bani Jaber, mayor of Aqraba, a town near the northern city of Nablus, witnessed Monday’s settler attack. He told Reuters that some 50 settlers, many of them armed, attacked members of his community and fired at Palestinian youth, killing two of them and wounding others.

“There were Israeli soldiers at the scene who stood idly by watching the settlers,” he said.

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A Palestinian woman inspects the damage to her house after Israeli settlers attacked the village of al-Mughayyer, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on Saturday. Photo: Reuters

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said soldiers blocked its ambulances from reaching the area and tending to the wounded.

The Israeli military said it was looking into the incident.

Israeli settlers kill 1 Palestinian, wound 25, in West Bank rampage

Earlier on Monday, Israeli forces raided Nablus, killing 17-year-old Yazan Ishtayeh and wounding three other people, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

A spokesperson for Israel’s Border Police said that undercover border police officers together with Israeli soldiers launched an operation in Nablus to arrest a suspect.

During the activity, there was rioting in which one person threw an explosive device at the troops and was shot dead by the undercover unit, the spokesperson said.

Over the weekend, hundreds of armed Jewish settlers raided Palestinian villages near the city of Ramallah, blocking roads, setting houses and cars ablaze, and firing at civilians, medics and civilians said.

Israeli authorities said the escalation began after a 14-year-old Israeli went missing in the West Bank. His body was discovered on Saturday in what Israel said was a suspected militant attack.

The US State Department condemned the killing of the Israeli teen and also said it was increasingly concerned by violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

In one incident caught on video and published by Israeli rights group Yesh Din on Sunday, a group of masked settlers appeared to set fire to a car in a West Bank town under the watch of at least three Israeli soldiers.

In response to the video, the Israeli military said: “The behaviour of the soldiers in the video does not correspond to the values and orders of the army. The incident is being examined and the soldiers will be dealt with accordingly”.

Violence in the West Bank was already on the rise before Israel’s assault on Gaza, which was triggered by an October 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel. It has escalated since, with stepped-up Israeli military raids, settler violence and Palestinian street attacks.

In addition to more than 33,000 Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza, according to Hamas-run authorities, the Palestinian Health Ministry says at least 466 people in the West Bank have been killed by Israeli forces or settlers, among them armed fighters.

In the same period, at least 13 Israelis, including two members of Israel’s security forces, have been killed by Palestinians in the West Bank, according to an Israeli tally.

Palestinians have long aimed to establish an independent state in the territories Israel occupied in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Most countries view Israeli settlements on occupied land as illegal, a view that Israel disputes.

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