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Palestinians say man killed by IDF gunfire during West Bank raid

Israeli military says it opened fire on armed suspects; PA claims Salah Sawafta, 58, was unarmed and ‘died of critical wounds’ after being shot in the head

Salah Sawafta, 58, was reported killed during an IDF raid in the northern West Bank on August 19, 2022. (WAFA)
Salah Sawafta, 58, was reported killed during an IDF raid in the northern West Bank on August 19, 2022. (WAFA)

A 58-year-old Palestinian man was killed Friday during an arrest raid by Israeli forces in a raid in the northern West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said, with local officials saying he was unarmed and leaving a mosque when hit.

The IDF confirmed it had opened fire during a raid in the town of Tubas, but said it had targeted armed suspects who attacked the troops with gunfire and firebombs.

Salah Sawafta “died of critical wounds, sustained by live bullets from the occupation (Israeli military) in the head, in Tubas this morning,” a Palestinian ministry statement said.

Sawafta’s brother, Jehad, said was shot in the head as he was returning home from dawn prayers.

“There were clashes with youths in the area and Salah was shot by a sniper in the head after he bought a bag of bread from a grocery store,” he said.

The mayor of Tubas, Hossam Daraghmeh, also said Sawafta had been leaving dawn prayers when he was shot.

“He left the mosque and was heading to his house wearing a prayer robe,” Daraghmeh said, adding that Sawafta had been unarmed when he was hit. “This man did not have a stone or anything in his hand.”

Surveillance video from outside the bakery shows Sawafta falling to the ground as another man leans out from the doorway and looks down the street. Neither Israeli troops nor Palestinian assailants can be seen in the video.

The IDF said that Israeli troops had carried out arrests of terror suspects in the West Bank in the early hours of Friday.

“IDF, Border Police and Shin Bet forces operated tonight in the Palestinian villages of Tammun and Tubas… and arrested five suspects allegedly involved in terrorist activity and in planning an attack,” the IDF said in a statement.

The Israeli military said that in Tubas a number of armed suspects confronted Israeli troops, throwing Molotov cocktails and opening fire toward them. Soldiers returned fire and “hits were identified,” the IDF said.

The IDF statement did not mention Sawafta.

Separately, IDF and Shin Bet forces arrested two suspects in the village of Hizma, the IDF said.

No injuries were reported among Israeli troops.

Illustrative. IDF soldiers during terror suspect arrest operations in the West Bank, August 15, 2022. (IDF)

Tensions have remained high in the West Bank, as Israeli security forces stepped up arrest raids and operations following a deadly wave of terror attacks against Israelis that left 19 people dead earlier this year.

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