An Israeli man was lightly injured after shots were fired at his vehicle as he drove near the northern West Bank Palestinian town of Hawara before dawn on Friday.
The driver was not wounded by the bullets, but by the window glass that shattered as a result of the shooting, the IDF said in a statement, adding that the man was transferred to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Israeli troops arrived at the scene shortly thereafter and found bullet shells on the ground. They launched a manhunt for the shooter or shooters who managed to flee. The search for them was ongoing, the army said.
Palestinian media reported that the IDF had closed off the entrances to Hawara and several neighboring villages as troops pursued the suspects.
Hawara has long been a flashpoint in the West Bank as it is just about the only Palestinian town through which Israelis regularly travel in order to reach settlements in the northern West Bank. In recent months, it has become the battleground of a “flag war” between Israelis and Palestinians, with each side taking down the other’s national flags shortly after they are hung on the village’s main road. IDF soldiers have also been filmed taking down Palestinian flags even though the portion of the road that runs through Hawara is located in Area B of the West Bank, which is supposed to be under the civilian control of the Palestinian Authority.
חשד לפיגוע ירי בשומרון: מחבלים פתחו באש מרכב חולף לעבר שני רכבים ישראלים באזור חווארה. אדם אחד (ערבי ישראלי) נפצע קל מרסיסי זכוכית שהתנפצה. כוחות צה"ל פתחו במצוד אחר היורה
(בתמונה: קליעים שאותרו על הכביש) pic.twitter.com/cP7ZXqWjvB
— שחר גליק (@glick_sh) September 9, 2022
The overnight shooting comes at a time of rising violence in the West Bank.
On Wednesday night, a Palestinian teen was shot dead after the IDF said he attacked an Israeli soldier with a hammer near the central West Bank village of Beitin.
Troops were conducting a routine operation in the area when the suspect lunged at the soldier, the Israel Defense Forces said. The soldier opened fire and killed the Palestinian man.
The IDF said that troops also found a knife on the suspect’s body afterward,
The soldier suffered only minor injuries to his head and didn’t require hospitalization after receiving treatment at the scene, the IDF said.
במהלך פעילות יזומה שגרתית של כוח צה״ל לפני זמן קצר, סמוך לכפר ביתין שבמרחב החטיבה המרחבית בנימין, חשוד תקף חייל צה״ל בעזרת פטיש. החייל הגיב בירי לעבר החשוד וניטרל אותו. בנוסף, נמצאה על החשוד סכין.
החייל נפצע בפניו וקיבל טיפול רפואי בנקודה pic.twitter.com/LOXxZ6GLRk
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) September 7, 2022
The alleged Palestinian assailant was later named by the Palestinian Authority health ministry as 17-year-old Haitham Hani Mubarak.
IDF troops have repeatedly come under gunfire during nightly raids in the West Bank, during a months-long effort against Palestinian terrorists.
The military launched the operation, dubbed Breakwater, after a series of deadly attacks that killed 19 people between mid-March and the beginning of May. More than 1,500 suspects have been detained since the start of the operation.
تغطية صحفية: "ارتقاء الشاب هيثم هاني مبارك من مدينة رام الله جراء إصابته برصاص الاحتلال عند مدخل قرية بيتين، فجر اليوم" pic.twitter.com/dCc1GSGY3D
— AlQastal القسطل (@AlQastalps) September 8, 2022
Meanwhile, at least 90 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces so far this year, according to a tally from the PA health ministry.
The list included Palestinians who carried out attacks inside Israel, teens violently protesting the IDF’s nightly raids and a veteran journalist — Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Akleh, who held US citizenship. On Monday, the IDF released its probe into the shooting, which found that one of its soldiers was likely responsible for what it deemed an accidental killing.
Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.