Palestinians stage strike after two killed by Israeli army

Man shot dead near Al Aqsa compound without justifiable reason, witnesses say

Israeli soldiers take position during a protest to mark the 'Land Day' in Huwara village, near the West Bank city of Nablus. EPA
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Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem went on strike on Sunday in protest after two people were killed by the Israeli army.

Israeli forces in the West Bank shot dead a Palestinian man after what they said was a ramming attack that injured three soldiers.

A Palestinian official said the 23-year-old was a member of the Palestinian security forces.

Shops were shuttered across Palestinian towns on Sunday, the official Wafa news agency reported, in protest against the killing of another man who was shot dead by Israeli police near the Al Aqsa compound in East Jerusalem on Friday night.

The incidents come amid heightened tensions during the holy month of Ramadan and the approaching Jewish holiday of Passover, which is often marked by increased restrictions for Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Israeli police said Mohammed Elasibi, a Bedouin from southern Israel, had tried to steal a police officer's weapon, while Israeli newspaper Haaretz cited witnesses as saying he was shot 10 times at close range "without a justifiable reason".

According to police accounts, he grabbed an officer's weapon before firing it in the direction of border police officers.

Local authorities and schools joined the protest, Wafa reported, with vigils and calls for strikes in Palestinian towns in Israel.

Police said the incident took place at a spot not covered by security cameras. Footage of similar incidents in the past has usually surfaced within a short time.

"It’s unheard of for there to be no cameras at the Chain Gate," a police source told Haaretz, referring to the site of the shooting.

The Justice Ministry opened a probe into Mr Elasibi's death and allegations of police misconduct, but said it was not a formal investigation.

Mansour Abbas, a lawmaker whose United Arab List party is popular in his hometown of Hura, said the man was a medical student and questioned the police account.

"All we demand is the truth," he said.

The deaths are the latest in a year already marked by significant bloodshed, with regular Israeli military raids in the West Bank leading to dozens of deaths, particularly in flashpoint towns of Jenin and Nablus.

Since the start of the year, the conflict has claimed the lives of 88 Palestinians, including militants and civilians, and one Arab Israeli.

Fourteen other Israelis, including members of the security forces and civilians, and one Ukrainian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both sides.

Updated: April 02, 2023, 10:33 AM