A Palestinian man was killed and another was seriously injured Saturday afternoon in clashes with settlers and Israeli forces in a West Bank village northeast of Ramallah, Palestinian officials said. At least five other Palestinians were injured to a lesser degree, and one Israeli suffered light wounds.
The army said an initial probe had shown that Hamdi Taleb Na’asan, a 38-year-old father of four, was shot dead by an armed settler outside the village of Al-Mughayyir.
There were conflicting claims as to how the deadly incident unfolded: Palestinians said settlers from the nearby outpost of Adei Ad arrived at an olive tree grove outside Al-Mughayyir and attacked villagers, shooting and injuring several of them. They said Na’asan had been shot in the back.
Meanwhile settlers claimed that a youth had been set upon by a Palestinian mob and had been stabbed in the hand, leading to the clashes and resulting in some settlers firing shots in the air after “they felt their lives were in danger.”
In a statement to the media, the Israeli youth who was allegedly attacked said he had walked 200 meters (600 feet) from the outpost for some solitude when “suddenly I saw three Arabs who ambushed me. They attacked me, hit me, and tried to drag me towards [their] village. I managed to escape to Adei Ad, and on the way I realized I had been stabbed in the arm. I saw blood.”
He said he called out the outpost’s armed defense squad and “they gave chase to the attackers.”
The army said that clashes had erupted between the sides, during which one or more settlers discharged their weapons, apparently killing Na’asan and possibly wounding several others.
— وكالة شهاب (@ShehabAgency) January 26, 2019
It was not immediately clear whether the injured Palestinians had also been hit by settler fire or in subsequent clashes when Israeli troops arrived to separate the sides.
هجوم من المستوطنين..شهيد و20 إصابة بالرصاص الحي في مواجهات المغيرhttps://t.co/dfm4L9NmBj
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) January 26, 2019
An army investigation into the incident was ongoing. The Israel Police also launched a probe, and said suspects could be summoned for interrogation.
Faraj Na’asan, Hamdi’s uncle, told The Times of Israel: “With the protection of the army, settlers attempted to raid the village from its northern end. The people then confronted the settlers to prevent them from entering the village. The settlers then opened fire on us, killing one of our sons, while the army shot into the air. The person who they killed was my nephew.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the “gangs of settlers’ assaults on the village of Mughayyir which led to the martyrdom of Hamdi Na’asan,” the official PA news site Wafa reported.
“We hold the Israeli government fully responsible for this new crime,” Saeb Erekat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, said.
The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups called for revenge for Na’asan’s death.
Meanwhile, violent protests were also reported along the Gaza border Saturday afternoon, with demonstrators burning tires and hurling objects at Israeli soldiers. Some attempts were made to sabotage the security fence. Israeli troops responded with tear gas and other less lethal means.
On Friday evening, the army said a 16-year-old Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli military forces near Ramallah after hurling rocks at Israeli vehicles.
According to the military, the teen, along with two others, was throwing rocks at Israeli cars near Route 60, the West Bank’s main north-south road. Troops fired at the three, hitting two of them. Soldiers administered medical assistance to the wounded, but the 16-year-old died of his injuries. The condition of the second person shot was not clear.
The army said it was reviewing the incident.
The incident took place as thousands of Palestinians gathered at the Gaza border for weekly demonstrations. Some 5,000 people rallied at the border, a lower turnout than in previous weeks. Demonstrators burned tires and hurled stones at Israeli soldiers. The Hamas-run health ministry said one person was killed and 23 injured in the clashes.
The West Bank has sometimes seen unrest and rioting on Fridays as a form of support for the Gaza rallies.
Last Thursday a Jewish teen was charged for his role in the killing of a Palestinian woman hit by a rock.
The 16-year-old Israeli, a student at the Pri Haaretz yeshiva in the northern West Bank settlement of Rehelim, was charged with manslaughter, aggravated stone throwing at a moving vehicle, and intentional sabotage of a vehicle. Each of the charges is connected to the killing of Aisha Rabi, a 47-year-old Palestinian mother of eight, and is qualified as having been carried out “in the context of a terrorist act.” If convicted, the suspect could face considerable jail time; a manslaughter terrorism conviction alone carries a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.