Palestinian shot dead after allegedly entering West Bank farm with knives, IEDs

Military says suspect killed by owner of land near Karnei Shomron settlement; troops, meanwhile, survey home of Tel Aviv terrorist, detain his father

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

These photos shows knives and explosives found on a Palestinian suspect who allegedly broke into a settlement farm in the northern West Bank, in an attempted attack on March 10, 2023. (Igal Lahav/ Karnei Shomron Local Council; Israel Defense Forces)
These photos shows knives and explosives found on a Palestinian suspect who allegedly broke into a settlement farm in the northern West Bank, in an attempted attack on March 10, 2023. (Igal Lahav/ Karnei Shomron Local Council; Israel Defense Forces)

A Palestinian man was shot dead by an Israeli civilian early Friday after breaking into a farm near the settlement of Karnei Shomron and trying to carry out an attack, the military said.

The Israel Defense Forces said the Palestinian was spotted entering the Havat Dorot Illit (Dorot Illit Farm) in the northern West Bank, armed with knives and improvised explosive devices.

The suspect allegedly hurled two IEDs, one of which exploded, before the owner of the farm shot him dead. The Rescuers Without Border emergency service said at least 10 IEDs were found in the area.

Troops searched the area to rule out any additional suspects, the IDF said.

Palestinian officials named the alleged attacker as 21-year-old Abd al-Karim Badi al-Sheikh from the nearby town of Saniriya.

Fiery clashes, meanwhile, broke out overnight in the West Bank town of Ni’lin as Israeli forces raided the home of a Palestinian man who opened fire outside a Tel Aviv cafe Thursday night, injuring three.

Israeli troops stand near the body of a Palestinian who allegedly broke into a settment farm in the northern West Bank and tried to carry out an attack, March 10, 2023. (Igal Lahav/ Karnei Shomron Local Council)

The IDF confirmed in a statement that soldiers entered Ni’lin and were at the home of the terrorist, named as Mutaz Salah al-Khawaja, 23. The raid came hours after Defense Minister Yoav Gallant demanded that the attacker’s home be razed immediately.

The IDF said troops had taken measurements at the house in preparation for its potential demolition.

Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks as a matter of policy. The efficacy of the policy has been hotly debated even within the Israeli security establishment, while human rights activists denounce the practice as unjust collective punishment.

The demolition process generally takes several months, as the home needs to be mapped out, the High Court must address appeals by the family, and security forces often wait for an optimal time to enter Palestinian cities or neighborhoods for the operation.

As soldiers operated in the town, near Ramallah, Palestinians launched firecrackers at the troops, hurled stones and other objects, and set up flaming roadblocks.

Israeli troops survey the home of a Palestinian terrorist who carried out a shooting attack in Tel Aviv, in the West Bank village of Ni’ilin, March 10, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

There were no Palestinian injuries immediately reported, but the IDF said troops fired “Ruger bullets” at Palestinians who were hurling explosives, Molotov cocktails, and stones,” adding that at least one was hit.

The .22-caliber round from a Ruger rifle is considered less lethal than the larger caliber rounds typically used by the military. Human rights groups have condemned the use of the rifle for riot control, as it can still kill. Troops typically fire the Ruger rifle at the lower body of rioters, rather than at the head, which can be deadly.

During the raid, Israeli forces arrested al-Khawaja’s father and another family member, the IDF said.

Al-Khawaja was killed by police and bystanders shortly after the attack as he attempted to flee the scene. The three victims remained hospitalized as of Friday morning. One person rushed to the hospital in critical condition underwent emergency surgery and was stabilized, but doctors still feared for his life, Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv said. The other two victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were listed in serious and light-to-moderate condition.

The Palestinian gunman who carried out a shooting attack in Tel Aviv, March 9, 2023. (Courtesy; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

State Department Spokesman Ned Price said the US “strongly condemned” the attack. “Terrorism must be universally condemned. We wish a full and quick recovery to those hurt and reiterate our ironclad support for Israel’s security,” he said in a tweet.

The French Embassy in Tel Aviv also spoke out against what it called “another intolerable attack in the heart of Tel Aviv.”

Earlier in the day, the French embassy in the US said it had “serious concerns” about an Israeli raid in Jenin earlier in the week in which six Palestinian gunmen were killed during a shootout with troops, including a Palestinian man accused of killing two Israeli brothers last month.

“France reiterates its call for the Israeli government to protect Palestinian civilians, in keeping with the international obligations incumbent upon it as an occupying power,” an embassy spokesperson said.

The Hamas terror group said al-Khawaja was a member of its armed wing. He did not have an entry permit to Israel when he carried out the attack.

In a statement, Hamas said the attack came as a “natural response” to recent deadly Israeli military raids in the West Bank but did not explicitly take responsibility for the shooting.

Police and medics at the scene of a terror attack on Dizengoff street, in central Tel Aviv, March 9, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

Also overnight, the IDF said troops came under fire by Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank city of Tulkarem. A military vehicle was damaged in the exchange of fire.

Later, also in Tulkarem, Palestinian gunmen opened fire from a passing vehicle and hurled explosives at Israeli forces, the IDF said. No soldiers were hurt.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high for the past year, with the IDF conducting near-nightly raids in the West Bank amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks. Those tensions have ramped up even further in recent weeks amid a cycle of Israeli raids and Palestinian revenge attacks, as well as an uptick in settler violence.

A string of Palestinian attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank in recent months left 14 Israelis dead and several more seriously hurt.

At least 74 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year, most of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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