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Palestinian killed by Israeli fire near West Bank outpost

Shadi Salim, a municipal employee, shot dead near his hometown of Beita; military says he ran at soldiers with an iron bar

Palestinian protester hurls stones towards Israeli troops during clashes at a protest in the West Bank village of Beita, near Nablus on June 08, 2021. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90
Palestinian protester hurls stones towards Israeli troops during clashes at a protest in the West Bank village of Beita, near Nablus on June 08, 2021. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90

A Palestinian was killed by Israeli military fire on Tuesday evening near the illegal Israeli outpost of Evyatar, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that a soldier had fired on a Palestinian at the scene. According to the IDF, the Palestinian had approached the soldiers in a menacing manner while holding what appeared to be an iron bar.

“The Palestinian quickly advanced toward the force holding an object identified as an iron bar. After not stopping, even though the soldiers fired in the air, the force’s commander fired at the suspect,” the Israeli military said.

No reported clashes preceded the event, nor did the army mention any in its statement. The IDF said it would look into the shooting, but did not announce a formal investigation.

Palestinian media identified the deceased as 41-year-old Shadi Amr Lutfi Salim, a municipal employee in the West Bank town of Beita, which abuts the Evyatar outpost. According to Arabic-language reports, Lutfi was standing at the entrance to the town when he was shot while at a flying checkpoint manned by Israeli soldiers.

The Hamas terror group mourned Salim’s death, although it did not claim him as a member.

“The pure blood of our people’s martyrs is the tax of freedom and the fuel in the battle of independence,” Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qasim said in a statement.

Beita’s Palestinian residents have been protesting the establishment of the illegal outpost on a hill — known as Jabal Sbeih — overlooking the town for over two months. Palestinians allege that the hilltop’s lands have historically been cultivated by Beita residents; Israeli authorities have yet to take a stance on the claim.

Every Friday, Palestinian demonstrators have marched toward Evyatar, hurling stones at Israeli forces and setting tires ablaze. The army has responded with rubber bullets and, occasionally, live fire.

The protests have left six Palestinians dead and hundreds wounded, according to Palestinian medics. On last Friday alone, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent, 21 Palestinians were shot by Israeli live fire, and another 68 were injured by rubber bullets.

After dark, Palestinian “night confusion units” would shine lasers, chant slogans and burn tires in an attempt to irritate the hilltop’s new residents. The tactic was borrowed from a similar strategy used by Gaza-based groups along the border fence with Israel.

In a bid to lower tensions in the area, the Israeli government reached an agreement with the settlers to vacate the outpost. In exchange, the makeshift buildings they installed will remain in place, the IDF will turn the area into a temporary base, and over the next several months, the Defense Ministry will survey the land to determine its status and see if it can be legally transformed into a formal settlement.

Palestinian residents of Beita have not accepted the arrangement, however. They have vowed to continue protesting until the Israeli presence on Jabal Sbeih ends, and the violent clashes have continued.

Separately, the Palestinian Authority reported on Monday that a 17-year-old boy had died from wounds sustained two months ago in a bloody day of West Bank clashes.

According to the PA, Yousef Maharib, a resident of the Ramallah-area town Sinjil, was shot in the spinal cord on May 14, as violence spread to the West Bank amid exploding tensions stemming from Israel’s mini-war with Hamas in Gaza.

Maharib’s death brought the number of Palestinians killed in clashes that day to 10, making it one of the deadliest days the West Bank has seen in years.

The army said in response that events surrounding the shooting were being examined.

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