Israel kills 3 Palestinians as West Bank violence shows no signs of slowing

AP , Monday 7 Aug 2023

Israeli forces on Sunday killed three Palestinians in the northern West Bank, further escalating a wave of violence in which two other people, including a young Palestinian, gunned down by extremist Israeli settlers, were killed over the weekend.

Mourners cry after taking the last look at the body of Qusai Matan, 19, during his funeral in the West Bank village of Burqa, east of Ramallah, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023. AP


The Israeli occupation army said it shot the three men near the Jenin refugee camp — the site of a large-scale military operation last month. It pretended the three men had just exited the camp and were on their way to carry out an attack and that an M-16 rifle was recovered from their vehicle.

The Hamas and Islamic Jihad resistance groups condemned the killings, though it was not immediately known if the three men belonged to either organization. Israel identified the leader of the group as Naif Abu Tsuik, 26, saying he was a “leading military operative” from the camp.

Last month, the occupation army carried out a two-day offensive in the camp, killing 12 Palestinians, including at least eight militants, and causing widespread damage to the densely populated area. 

But the attack appears to have done little to halt a broader wave of violence that began in early 2022 and has gained momentum since Israel's new hard-line government took office in December. The Israeli government is dominated by ultranationalist West Bank settler leaders and other allies with close ties to the settler movement.

A growing number of Israeli voices have said their presence in the government has worsened the tense atmosphere by emboldening young militant settlers to attack Palestinians.

The Israeli news site Ynet reported Sunday that Ronen Bar, head of the Shin Bet internal security agency, recently warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that settler violence was becoming a strategic threat and raising the likelihood of Palestinian attacks in retaliation. The report drew angry condemnations from leading members of the government.

The report said that Bar issued his warning before a Friday night incident in which armed settlers stormed into a Palestinian village and killed a 19-year-old Qusai Matan. On Saturday, a Palestinian gunman shot and killed an Israeli security guard in central Tel Aviv before another guard shot and killed the attacker.

Israeli media reported that one of the suspects in the incident, Elisha Yered, was a former aide to an ultranationalist lawmaker in the “Jewish Power” party, one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s key coalition partners.

The shooting is part of an escalation of settler attacks on Palestinian civilians in recent months, and several Israeli commentators warned Sunday that assailants felt emboldened by fellow ultranationalists in key positions in government.

In the right-leaning Hebrew-language daily Israel Hayom, pundit Yoav Limor wrote that there are “armed Jewish militias that are operating like terrorist groups,” in the West Bank.

“If the state of Israel doesn’t come to its senses and stop them immediately, the damage they will do is far more dangerous than any terror attack of the enemy,” he said.

Early on Sunday, the Israeli military said troops measured the home of the Palestinian attacker in Saturday's Tel Aviv killing to prepare for its demolition in the village of Rumana, near Jenin.

Israel says home demolitions are meant to deter future attackers but critics say they amount to collective punishment against the families of assailants and only exacerbate tensions with Palestinians.

Violence has spiraled in the northern West Bank with the rise of raids by the Israeli military, and growing attacks by extremist Israeli settlers, and Palestinian groups retaliation against Israelis 

The surge in fighting is one of the worst between Israelis and Palestinians in nearly two decades. More than 214 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire this year in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, according to a tally by The AFP.

At least 28 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis so far this year.

*This story has been edited by Ahram Online.


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