Two Palestinians and one Israeli killed in West Bank

Israeli forces kill two Palestinians at checkpoint who they said carried out fatal shooting near settlement

Israeli security forces and emergency services at the scene of the shooting in Ma'ale Adumim, near Jerusalem. EPA
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Israeli forces killed two Palestinians it said were responsible for a shooting that left one Israeli dead and several wounded near the occupied West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim on Thursday morning.

Brothers Muhammad and Kadam Zohra, aged 26 and 31, from Bethlehem, were shot dead near Al Zaeem checkpoint, Israeli media quoted the police's West Bank commander Uzi Levy as saying.

A third Palestinian was shot and severely wounded, also confirmed by the official Palestinian Wafa news agency, which reported the Israeli army had “opened fire” on the men.

Israel said the men were responsible for killing an Israeli and wounding several others as they waited to pass through the checkpoint, which connects the settlement with Jerusalem.

Several of the injured are in serious condition, Israel's emergency services said.

Violence in the West Bank has risen since the war in Gaza broke out in October, with Israel launching multiday raids and drone strikes across the Palestinian territory.

Israeli troops and settlers have killed at least 400 Palestinians in the West Bank since the Gaza war began, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah says.

Three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli raid in Jenin on Wednesday.

While Israel claims to target members of Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas, children, elderly and unarmed Palestinians have been killed by the military.

Attacks by illegal settlers have also increased, prompting several western nations, including the US, Israel's closest ally, to impose sanctions on Israelis suspected of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited Al Zaeem checkpoint later on Thursday and claimed a "major disaster" had been averted due to his controversial decision to increase the number of armed Israelis in the area.

"Some criticised me for this but today everyone sees that having weapons saves lives," he was quoted by Israeli newspaper Haaretz as saying.

Mr Ben-Gvir has been widely criticised for stoking the conflict. He called for further restrictions of Palestinian freedom of movement in the West Bank, already curtailed by Israeli checkpoints.

"The right to life of Jewish residents living in the West Bank is more important than the freedom of movement for Palestinian Authority residents," he said in Haaretz.

"Therefore, I anticipate more barriers and restrictions ... I will advocate for restrictions and I’m glad the Prime Minister supports my stance.”

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich also called for more houses to be built in the settlement of Ma'ale Adumim in response to the attack.

The latest violence in the West Bank comes as the death toll in Gaza nears 30,000, with more than a million Palestinians bracing for an Israeli offensive on the southern border city of Rafah.

Israel has concentrated recent air strikes on Rafah and areas in central Gaza, including Deir Al Balah and Nuseirat refugee camp.

Seventeen people were killed in a single air strike on a family home in Nuseirat on Wednesday evening, the Wafa news agency reported.

Gazans say they have little, if anything, to return to if they have to flee Rafah.

Most of northern Gaza, where Israel concentrated its initial ground offensive, lies in ruins, and the UN's food agency has suspended deliveries to the area amid a “breakdown in civil order”, compounding risks of famine.

Starving Palestinians are now grinding animal feed to make food, and feeding herbs to their children.

In the northern Jabilia refugee camp, “flour and canned foods have run out”, residents told The National.

“My children are crying. They want real food,” said Haitham Hamoda.

Updated: February 22, 2024, 11:33 AM