Israeli army kills unarmed Palestinian woman in West Bank

AP , Sunday 10 Apr 2022

​Israeli troops on Sunday shot and killed an unarmed Palestinian woman in the occupied West Bank and Palestinians set fire to a shrine revered by Jews, Israeli and Palestinian officials said. It was the latest episode of violence during the holy month of Ramadan.

West Bank
Relatives of 25-year-old Palestinian Ahmed al-Saadi, who was killed earlier during clashes with Israeli forces, mourn during the funeral in the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin in the occupied West Bank on April 9, 2022. AFP

Tension has been escalating as Ramadan this year converges with major Jewish and Christian holidays. Protests during Ramadan last year boiled over into an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza militants.

The Israeli army said it fired at the woman's lower body after she approached a military checkpoint near the West Bank city of Bethlehem and ignored calls to stop and warning shots fired into the air. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the woman, who was in her 40s, later died from her injuries in a hospital.

Palestinian assailants often carry out attacks at checkpoints in the West Bank. But Palestinians and human rights groups say the military often uses excessive force and in some cases has injured or killed people who were not involved in violence. The Israeli military confirmed the woman was found to be unarmed and said the incident was under investigation.

Earlier, Brig. Gen. Ran Kochav, the chief military spokesman, told Israeli Army Radio that some 100 Palestinians marched toward Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus late Saturday and set it ablaze before they were dispersed by Palestinian security forces. Images on social media showed parts of the tomb inside the shrine smashed and charred.

Joseph's Tomb is a flashpoint prayer site. Some Jews believe the biblical Joseph is buried in the tomb, while Muslims say a sheikh is buried there. The army escorts Jewish worshippers to the site several times a year, in coordination with Palestinian security forces.

The incident drew condemnation from Israeli leaders. ``The vandalism of Joseph's Tomb is a grave event and a serious violation of freedom of worship in one of the holiest places for every Jew,'' Defense Minister Benny Gantz tweeted.

The incidents come as Israeli forces continued to operate in the northern West Bank city of Jenin and the surrounding area, home to two of the Palestinian attackers who staged deadly attacks against Israelis in recent weeks.

Jenin is considered a stronghold of Palestinian militants. Israeli forces often come under fire when operating in the area. Even the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank and coordinates with Israel on security matters, appears to have little control there.

Late Saturday, Israel announced that it was tightening restrictions on movement in and out of the city, though it continued to allow laborers to enter Israel for work. A raid on the hometown of one of the assailants on Saturday sparked a gunbattle that left at least one Palestinian militant dead.

Jenin governor Akram Rajoub denounced the ongoing Israeli activity in the area, called the measures ``an expression of collective punishment'' meant to disrupt the lives of Palestinians rather than thwart attacks.

The army said the forces were making arrests, gathering intelligence and preparing the homes of the attackers for demolition.

``We will be at every place at any time as needed to cut off these terror attacks. Israel is going on the offensive,'' Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told a meeting of his Cabinet.

In Sunday's raid, the military said a ``violent riot'' broke out as forces were operating in the village of Yabad, home to one of the attackers. It said forces opened fire and ``neutralized'' one Palestinian who threw an explosive at them. It was unclear what his condition was.

Forces arrested at least eight suspects and found Israeli military ammunition and uniforms in one of the suspect's homes as well as illegal arms, the military said.

Four attacks by Palestinians in recent weeks have killed 14 people in one of the deadliest bursts of violence against Israelis in years.

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