Israeli forces kill 14-year-old Palestinian as extremist minister storms Al-Aqsa

AP , AFP , Thursday 27 Jul 2023

Israeli military fire killed a 14-year-old Palestinian in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian health officials said Thursday, as an extremist Israeli Cabinet minister broke into the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Mourners pray next to the body of Mohammed Nada, 23, during his funeral in the al-Ein refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus, Wednesday, July 26, 2023. AP


"The occupation forces had stormed the Naqar neighbourhood in the west of Qalqilya, which led to clashes," the Palestinian official Wafa news agency reported.

"They fired live and rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas at residents and their homes."

The Palestinian health ministry identified the dead teenager as Fares Abu Samrah, 14, and said he died of bullet wounds to the head.

On Wednesday, a Palestinian was killed in the main northern West Bank city of Nablus during what the army also described as "counter-terrorism activity".

On Tuesday, Israeli troops killed three Palestinian militants in an exchange of fire in Nablus.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967.

Since early last year, the territory has seen violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinian communities as well as a string of attacks by Palestinians on Israeli targets.

So far this year, violence linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has killed at least 203 Palestinians, 27 Israelis, one Ukrainian and one Italian, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources on both sides.

Extremist Israeli Cabinet minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the compounds of al-Aqsa mosque on Thursday, drawing condemnation from Palestinians who view such visits as provocative. The site is revered by Jews and Muslims, and the competing claims lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ben-Gvir was joining what will likely be hundreds of Jews visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to mark the Jewish holiday of Tisha B'Av, a key event in Jewish history.

“This is the most important place for the people of Israel which we must return to and show our rule,” Ben-Gvir said in a video released by his office, with the golden Dome of the Rock in the background.

Ben-Gvir, a former West Bank settler leader and far-right activist who years ago was convicted of incitement and supporting a Jewish terror group, now serves as Israel’s national security minister, overseeing the country’s police force.

Thursday was Ben-Gvir's third known visit to the holy site since becoming a minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right government.

Under longstanding arrangements, Jews are permitted to visit the site, but not to pray there. But in recent years, a growing number of Jewish visitors have begun to quietly pray, raising fears among Palestinians that Israel is plotting to divide or take over the site. Ben-Gvir has long called for increased Jewish access.

Netanyahu's government, consisting of ultranationalists and West Bank settlement supporters like Ben-Gvir, has intensified steps to solidify Israel's hold on territories that Palestinians seek for a future state, angering Israel's top ally, the United States, and dimming hopes for Palestinian statehood.

Short link: