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West Bank violence persists with Israeli, Palestinian attacks

So far this year, violence linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has killed at least 176 Palestinians, 25 Israelis, a Ukrainian and an Italian.

AFP
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A Palestinian throws a stone during clashes with Israeli troops after Israeli settlers attack Umm Safa village near Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, June 24. Photo: Reuters
A Palestinian throws a stone during clashes with Israeli troops after Israeli settlers attack Umm Safa village near Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, June 24. Photo: Reuters

Violence in the occupied West Bank persisted Saturday with Israelis attacking Palestinian residents and a Palestinian shooter killed by Israeli forces at a checkpoint, officials on both sides said.

The latest incidents add to a mounting toll which has cost four Israeli and 16 Palestinian lives across the territory since Monday.

Palestinians have described hundreds of Israelis attacking their villages in recent days, after Palestinian gunmen killed four Israelis near a West Bank settlement on Tuesday.

The heads of the Israeli military, police and the Shin Bet domestic security agency on Saturday described as "nationalist terrorism" the series of attacks by Israelis targeting Palestinians in the West Bank.

"This violence increases Palestinian terrorism and harms the state of Israel and the international legitimacy of Israel's security forces to fight Palestinian terrorism," a joint statement said.

In the latest such incident, Israel's army said "rocks were hurled and reports were received of Israeli citizens setting fire to Palestinian property" in the northern village of Umm Safa.

A soldier was wounded and one Israeli was arrested, the army said.

The Palestinian health ministry said an ambulance "was stoned by (Israeli) settlers" near Umm Safa, wounding the driver.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War and, excluding annexed east Jerusalem, the territory is now home to around 490,000 Israelis who live in settlements considered illegal under international law.

The Palestinians, who seek their own independent state, want Israel to withdraw from all land it occupied in the Six-Day War and to dismantle all Jewish settlements.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to "strengthen settlements" and has expressed no interest in reviving peace talks, moribund since 2014.

Netanyahu's coalition contains hardline settlers, including extreme-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Checkpoint shooting 

Ahmad Tibi, an Arab-Israeli lawmaker, visited the West Bank village of Turmus Ayya on Saturday where he inspected the damage from earlier reprisals.

"The Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves in front of those who come to burn their house and burn their wife and grandson," he said.

Diplomats from more than 20 missions, including the European Union and the US, visited Turmus Ayya on Friday where they condemned the attack during which one Palestinian was shot dead.

In further violence Saturday, Israeli police said at the Qalandia checkpoint a "suspect opened fire at the security forces", who shot back.

"The death of the terrorist was later determined at the scene," a police statement said.

The crossing serves as the main gateway used by Palestinians between annexed east Jerusalem and Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority which has partial administrative control in the West Bank.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a Palestinian militant group, in a statement said "our heroic fighters... were able to directly target occupation (Israeli) soldiers at Qalandia checkpoint."

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa identified the person shot dead as Ishaq al-Ajluni, aged 17 or 18, from the Kufr Aqab neighbourhood just north of the checkpoint.

So far this year, violence linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has killed at least 176 Palestinians, 25 Israelis, a Ukrainian and an Italian.

The tally compiled from official sources includes combatants as well as civilians and, on the Israeli side, three members of the Arab minority.

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