Palestinian shot dead in occupied West Bank clashes with Israeli soldiers

The clashes come as tensions rise in both the territory and the Gaza Strip

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Relatives of 23-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Adwan, who was killed during a clash with Israeli forces near Jerusalem overnight, mourn during his funeral on April 2, 2019 in the Qalandia refugee camp near Ramallah in the West Bank.  / AFP / AHMAD GHARABLI
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A Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli forces on Tuesday during clashes with troops in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian health officials said.

The Palestinian health ministry said the man had lived in Qalandia refugee camp and that three other Palestinians were wounded.

Palestinian news agency Wafa named the man as 23-year-old Mohammad Dar Udwan. Following his funeral, Palestinians continued clash with Israeli soldiers as tensions escalated. Medics said one child and a youth were hit in the head with rubber bullets.

The Israeli military said troops opened fire after Palestinians threw rocks and explosives at them during an operation southeast of the city of Ramallah.

Tensions have been high in the occupied West Bank since a Palestinian killed an Israeli soldier and a rabbi in a stabbing and shooting attack in mid-March.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians seek to establish a state there and in the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces continued to fire at Gazans on Tuesday, according to local Palestinian media reports, which said that they were targeting men flying balloons attached with flaming rags over the border and into Israel.

Israel and Hamas are engaged in a fragile truce brokered by Egypt that appears to be holding because both parties do not want another major conflagration in the enclave.

Last week, a rocket fired from Gaza landed in Israel and wounded seven people, to which the military responded with air strikes against Hamas targets. Israel holds the rulers of Gaza responsible for any fire that emanates from the territory.

On Saturday, thousands of Palestinians marched against Israel’s siege of Gaza, calling for a return to their homes that now sit in modern-day Israel after its creation in 1948. Four Palestinians, including three teenagers, were killed by Israeli fire.

Israel has come under heavy international criticism for the large number of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators who have been shot over the past 12 months.

Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, while one Israeli soldier was killed last summer by a Palestinian sniper in Gaza.

The most recent escalation led to one of the tensest outbreaks of conflict between the two since the 2014 summer war that left over 2,000 Palestinians dead. Egypt stepped in to bring calm to the situation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a close-fought election race on April 9 and is looking to avoid a major clash with Hamas or operation in Gaza.

On Tuesday, the group denied reports that it was including a potential prisoner swap in any indirect talks with Israel.

Hamas is holding the remains of two dead Israeli soldiers, as well as two captive Israelis. But senior Hamas member Ismail Radwan poured cold water on the talks including a trade that would have seen Hamas members convicted in Israeli prisons released.

According to Hamas’ leader Ismail Haniyeh, the group is seeking three concessions from Israel for its prisoners: that family visits are renewed, that phone signal be allowed inside the facilities, and to stop the prison service’s “punishing” of security prisoners.

On Monday, Israel loosened restrictions on Gaza’s fisherman, allowing them to travel up to 15 miles into the Mediterranean Sea, the largest in years. But it still remains short of the 20 nautical miles agreed under the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993.

The distance has fluctuated in recent years from between three nautical miles up to 12 in certain areas.

In late February, Israel extended part of the zone to 12 nautical miles while other areas remained at six.