IDF soldiers shoot masked settler allegedly hurling stones at Palestinians

Palestinians clash with troops in West Bank town of Beita as military hunts for terrorist who killed father and son at carwash in Huwara

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Illustrative: Israeli security forces secure the scene of a shooting attack in Huwara, in the West Bank, August 19, 2023. (Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli security forces secure the scene of a shooting attack in Huwara, in the West Bank, August 19, 2023. (Flash90)

A settler was moderately hurt after Israeli soldiers fired at a group of masked individuals who were allegedly throwing stones at Palestinian vehicles in the West Bank early Sunday morning.

The Israel Defense Forces said troops were dispatched to the scene near the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Levona at around 3 a.m. After identifying the masked group, the soldiers began a “suspect arrest procedure,” which included opening fire at one of the suspects, the military said.

The suspects had allegedly hurled stones at Palestinian vehicles on the Route 60 highway. The IDF opened fire after one of the masked settlers allegedly hurled an additional stone during the arrest procedure.

The suspect, in his 20s, was moderately wounded and taken to Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus in Jerusalem for treatment, medical officials said.

The incident came as security forces were searching for a terrorist who shot dead two Israelis in the West Bank town of Huwara the day before.

Shay Silas Nigreker, 60, and his 28-year-old son Aviad Nir were shot to death at a carwash in Huwara, a West Bank town that has been the site of a series of violent incidents between Israelis and Palestinians in recent months.

The terrorist approached the carwash on foot and opened fire at the two Israelis from close range with a handgun, according to the IDF’s preliminary investigation. The terrorist then fled the scene, apparently on foot.

An undated photo shows Shay Silas Nigreker, 60 (right) and his 28-year-old son Aviad Nir, who were killed in a terror attack in the West Bank town of Huwara, August 19, 2023. (Courtesy)

The military on Saturday was preparing to prevent Israeli settlers from potentially carrying out revenge attacks, bolstering the Huwara area with the Givati Brigade’s reconnaissance battalion and a number of Border Police teams.

Settlers hurled stones at Palestinian vehicles near Huwara, as well as near al-Bireh, close to Ramallah, on Saturday night, according to Palestinian media outlets.

Clashes, meanwhile, broke out overnight between security forces and Palestinians in the town of Beita, close to Huwara, where the military focused its manhunt for the Palestinian terrorist.

The two attack victims, who were not residents of the area, were believed by the army to have been in Huwara for a number of hours on Saturday before the attack, engaged in various personal errands. According to the Ynet news site, the two came to the town to repair their car’s air conditioner and buy accessories for the vehicle.

Some goods and services are cheaper in the West Bank than in Israel, drawing customers across the border despite the security risk. The attack occurred as the pair were standing by their car while it was being washed after it was repaired.

Huwara has long been a flashpoint in the West Bank, due to a main thoroughfare running through the town that is used regularly by Israelis to travel to and from settlements. There are plans to build a bypass road for settlers to avoid having to travel through the town, but work on this has dragged on for years.

The IDF generally does not maintain as significant of a presence in Huwara on Saturdays, as the vast majority of settlers in the area are observant Jews and do not drive on the Sabbath. Troops are usually bolstered on Saturday night when Israelis travel to and from the settlements in the area.

IDF troops at the scene of a deadly terrorist shooting attack at a carwash in the West Bank town of Huwara, August 19, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

There have been several shooting attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers in the town in recent months, including the killing of two brothers in February.

There have also been a handful of instances of settler violence targeting the Palestinian residents of Huwara, including a deadly rampage that unfolded hours after the February attack in which the two Israeli brothers were shot dead.

One Palestinian man was shot dead under unclear circumstances during the riots in February. Military officials later said they had failed in not subduing that attack on Palestinians, which elicited shock and condemnations inside Israel and around the world.

Violence has surged across the West Bank over the past year and a half, with a rise in Palestinian shooting attacks against Israeli civilians and troops, near-nightly arrest raids by the military, and an uptick in attacks by extremist Jewish settlers against Palestinians.

Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank have left 28 people dead and several others seriously wounded since the beginning of the year, including in Saturday’s shooting.

According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 173 West Bank Palestinians have also been killed during the same period — most of them during clashes with security forces or while carrying out attacks, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under unclear circumstances, including by armed Israeli settlers.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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