Dozens of settler youths riot at scene of West Bank terror shooting

Stone-throwing at Palestinian vehicles reported in several locations; thousands rally at PM’s residence to protest government response to surge in terror

Dozens of settler youths rioted at the scene of a deadly terror shooting Thursday in the central West Bank, human rights activists and Palestinian reports said, as thousands of right-wing Israelis protested in Jerusalem against the government’s response to a string of terror attacks.

Video footage showed the far-activists throwing stones at passing Palestinian vehicles on Route 60, outside the Givat Assaf outpost, and clashing with Israeli soldiers.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, settlers hurled rocks at Palestinian cars in the Etzion Bloc, a Palestinian security source told the official Palestinian Authority news site Wafa.

A number of the vehicles were damaged, the source said.

Settlers also hurled rocks at Palestinian vehicles near the entrance to Jit, a village in the northern West Bank, said Zakaria Sede, a Rabbis for Human Rights field coordinator.

A number of the vehicles were damaged, he said in a phone call, adding the settlers also threw rocks at homes in Jit, shattering the windows of two homes.

Sede also said rocks were thrown at Palestinian cars in Hawara, outside Nablus.

A cracked windshield seen on a van in the Palestinian town of Hawara in the northern West Bank on December 13, 2018, after Israeli settlers reportedly threw rocks at it. (Courtesy of Rabbis for Human Rights)

B’Tselem, a rights group that opposes Israeli military control of the West Bank, released a video it said shows a masked settler throwing rocks at the windshield of a Palestinian truck near the northern West Bank settlement of Yitzhar.

The Yesh Din rights group reported that settlers fired live bullets at homes in the Palestinian villages of Ein Yabroud and Beitin in the central West Bank.

In Jerusalem, thousands of people demonstrated outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence against the government’s response to recent terror attacks in the West Bank.

Police closed roads in the Rehavia neighborhood due to the protest and advised drivers to take alternate routes.

Right-wing Israelis demonstrate outside the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem on December 13, 2018, following a number of recent terror attacks in the West Bank. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Two Israeli soldiers were killed in Thursday’s shooting outside Givat Assaf, while a third soldier was critically wounded and a civilian woman seriously injured.

The army later named the dead soldiers as Staff Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef, 20, and Sgt. Yosef Cohen, 19.

The shooting came amid a rash of recent terror attacks, including a drive-by shooting Sunday outside the Ofra settlement in which seven Israelis were injured. Among the wounded was a pregnant woman whose baby was delivered by an emergency C-section but died on Wednesday.

Also Thursday, Border Police shot and killed a Palestinian in Jerusalem’s Old City who stabbed two officers, lightly wounding them.

The army said another Palestinian tried to ram his car into soldiers outside Ramallah, though defense officials told Channel 10 news it appeared not to have been an attack. The Palestinian driver was shot dead by Israeli troops.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry spokesman Osama Najjar identified the driver as 58-year-old Hamdan al-Arda. Najjar told the Times of Israel that Arda, who was a resident of Araba, a village in the northern West Bank, was the owner of an aluminum company in al-Bireh and was shot dead by Israeli forces meters away from his business’s headquarters

An Israeli soldier stands next to the car of a Palestinian man who was killed in what the military said was a car-ramming attack near the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 13, 2018. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

The West Bank has seen an increase in the number of attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers in recent weeks, after months of relative calm in the area, raising concerns of a potential renewed outbreak of regular, serious violence in the region.

The military blamed the increase in attacks both on terror groups’ ongoing efforts, the “copycat” phenomenon, and a number of significant dates coming up this week, notably the anniversary of the Hamas terror group’s founding.

On Wednesday night, the Israeli military arrested a number of suspects who were believed to have carried out Sunday night’s shooting attack and shot dead a third, who security officials said tried to attack Israeli troops during an escape attempt.

A Palestinian who shot dead two Israelis in a West Bank terror attack in October at the Barkan industrial zone was also killed early Thursday during a shootout with IDF troops.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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