Three Israelis and eight foreign tourists drove into the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday evening. They were spotted by Palestinian security forces, who protected them while escorting them safely out of the area, Channel 12 news reported.
It was the second such incident in a West Bank city in as many days.
According to Channel 12 news, Palestinian forces handed over the group to Israeli security forces. There was no immediate statement from the Israeli military on the matter.
Footage circulating on social media apparently showed the two cars surrounded by a crowd. It was unclear why they had driven into the area — part of the 80 percent of the city that is under the control of the Palestinian Authority.
There were no injuries reported in the incident.
The Walla news site said the eight tourists were from Russia.
Now in Hebron, an Israeli settler downtown caught by local residents. PSF are trying to evacuate him. pic.twitter.com/UzXsp4zePQ
— Younis Tirawi -يونس الطيراوي (@ytirawi) October 5, 2022
Hebron is a West Bank city with a population of over 210,000 Palestinians and several hundred Israeli settlers living in enclaves, mostly near its old city area.
Under the Hebron Protocol signed in 1997, the West Bank’s most populous city was divided into two sections. H1 includes 80 percent of the city and lies under full Palestinian control. In H2, 800 Israeli settlers live in fortified compounds heavily guarded by the IDF amid 40,000 Palestinians, whose movements are highly restricted.
The incident came a day after an Israeli woman and her daughters who drove into the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank were detained by Palestinian security forces and handed over to Israeli authorities unharmed, just hours before the start of Yom Kippur on Tuesday evening.
It was not immediately clear why the family, from Elad in central Israel, drove into Nablus, which is located inside Area A of the West Bank. Area A is officially under complete Palestinian Authority control, though the Israeli military conducts activities there. The IDF bars Israeli citizens from entering Area A without prior authorization.
Hebrew reports on Wednesday evening said the woman and her children had entered the city with a Palestinian friend and were shopping together in the heart of the local casbah when they and their Israeli vehicle, with Israeli registration plates, were spotted.
Armed Palestinians shot in the air upon seeing the Israeli vehicle with the woman and children and questioned them before transferring them to Palestinian security forces, Hebrew media reported. They were questioned again and escorted outside the city to be handed over to Israeli security forces.
A source in the Israeli security establishment praised the quick response of the Palestinian authorities, telling Ynet that “without the quick and sharp reaction of the [Palestinian security forces]…the event would have ended with four bodies.”
The military spokesperson’s office said in a statement that “Israeli citizens had entered the city of Nablus and left accompanied by the Palestinian security forces,” adding that the Israelis would be questioned by Israeli authorities.
“We emphasize that entering Area A is prohibited and dangerous for Israelis,” the IDF said in the statement.