Israeli troops shoot dead two Palestinians in occupied West Bank

Killings show fighting is not slowing down from last year

A bullet-riddled car in which two Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli troops in Jaba, near the West Bank town of Jenin. AFP
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Israeli troops shot and killed two Palestinian men during a military raid in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, while a third Palestinian died of wounds sustained in a separate Israeli raid about two weeks earlier, according to Palestinian medical officials.

Israel's military said its soldiers opened fire in the village of Jaba after gunmen in a passing vehicle shot at them. They said that soldiers later took an M-16 rifle from the vehicle.

The deaths raised the number of Palestinians killed in clashes with the Israelis to 11 this year, as deadly fighting in the area from 2022 shows no signs of slowing in the new year.

The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the men as Ezzeddin Hamamrah, 24, and Amjad Khleleyah, who was 23.

Jaba is south of Jenin, a town in the northern West Bank where some of the heaviest clashes have taken place in nearly a year of violence

The Palestinian news agency Wafa, quoting security sources, said Israeli soldiers opened fire on a car near the Jaba intersection and then pursued it to the nearby village of Fandakoumieh, where they continued shooting.

Soldiers had set up a checkpoint at the intersection, leading to clashes with residents. The soldiers opened fire at the residents, hitting one in the leg, Wafa reported.

The Health Ministry also said Samer Al Jaabari, 19, died on Saturday from wounds he suffered on January 2 in clashes west of Jenin.

Mr Al Jaabari was injured when Israeli troops forced their way into a village to demolish the homes of two Palestinian gunmen who had killed an Israeli soldier in September. Two Palestinians, including a gunman, were killed during confrontations with Israeli forces that day.

Israel increased its military raids last spring after a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis killed 19 people. Israel said the operations were meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart attacks.

The Palestinians see them as entrenchment of Israel’s 55-year, open-ended occupation of land they seek for their future state.

Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2022, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported, making last year the deadliest since 2004.

Israel said most of the dead were militants. But Palestinian stone-throwers, youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in confrontations also have been killed.

Palestinian attacks, meanwhile, killed a total of 31 people last year, according to Israeli figures.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 war, along with the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, territories the Palestinians want for their future independent state.

Israel has since settled 500,000 people in about 130 settlements across the West Bank, which the Palestinians and much of the international community view as an obstacle to peace.

Since 2015, Israeli authorities have issued 5,820 demolition and removal orders against Palestinian buildings and facilities in the West Bank and Jerusalem, according to the Palestine Liberation Organisation's Wall and Settlement Resistance Commission.

Most of these — 1,584 — were in Hebron governorate, followed by 735 in Bethlehem governorate and 704 in Ramallah governorate, the commission said in a statement reported by Wafa on Saturday.

With reporting from agencies

Updated: January 14, 2023, 10:03 AM