Palestinian youth and Israeli guard killed in West Bank

Killings follow weeks of heightened Palestinian-Israeli tensions at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City

A Palestinian man confronts Israeli security forces during a protest against a new settler outpost in Beit Dajan in the occupied West Bank on April 29. AFP
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A Palestinian man and an Israeli guard were killed in the occupied West Bank following further violence at Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem during which dozens of Palestinians were injured.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said Israeli forces fatally shot a 27-year-old man in the chest during an operation in Azoun village near the town of Qalqilya early on Saturday.

Separately, gunmen killed a guard at the entrance to the Ariel settlement before fleeing the scene, the Israeli army said.

The military had launched a hunt for the attackers, who it called terrorists.

The killings come amid heightened tensions at Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City during Ramadan.

Hundreds of worshippers have been injured by rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas fired by Israeli police, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.

Similar violence last year contributed to the start of an 11-day war between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

The group said the killing of the settlement guard was a "heroic operation". Spokesman Hazem Qassem said it was a response to the "attacks on Al Aqsa".

The Palestinian Red Crescent said more than 40 people were wounded at Al Aqsa Mosque compound on Friday, with 22 requiring treatment in hospital.

It said Israeli forces prevented first responders from entering the compound during the operation and that one of its medics was beaten by police.

Israeli police said officers “were forced to enter” the compound to disperse “rioters” who were throwing stones and fireworks.

No injuries were reported among the heavily armed officers.

Al Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Islam. The site is in East Jerusalem, which Israel seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and later annexed, a move that is not recognised by most of the international community.

Palestinians say the presence of Israeli police at the compound and regular visits by Jews are a breach of decades-old informal arrangements governing the site. The visits were halted for the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Palestinian-Israeli tensions were already high before the start of Ramadan owing to a series of deadly attacks inside Israel and Israeli army raids in the West Bank.

Twelve Israelis, including an Arab-Israeli police officer, and two Ukrainians were killed in four separate attacks in Israel. Two of the attacks were carried out in the Tel Aviv area by Palestinians.

A total of 27 Palestinians and three Arab Israelis have died during the same period, among them perpetrators of attacks and those killed by Israeli security forces in West Bank operations, AFP reported.

Updated: April 30, 2022, 12:01 PM