Police on Sunday summoned residents of the Adei Ad settlement for questioning after an armed resident apparently shot dead a Palestinian man during clashes in the West Bank a day earlier.
Hamdi Naasan, 38, was killed near the Ramallah-area village of Mughayyir. There were conflicting claims as to how the deadly incident unfolded. Local Palestinians say the settlers fatally shot Nassan during an altercation, but Adei Ad residents claim their security guards fired shots in the air to chase away Palestinians attackers who stabbed a Jewish man.
The Israel Defense Forces said initial indications were that a settler from Adei Ad had a “physical confrontation” with several Palestinians and was slightly hurt.
“Shortly thereafter, a conflict erupted between Israeli civilians and Palestinians in the area, in which live rounds were fired by the civilians,” the IDF said in a statement. “One Palestinian died and several others are injured.”
It said that troops and border police responding to the altercation used “riot dispersal means” to break up the disturbance, not live ammunition.
Both the IDF and the police’s internal investigations unit have opened investigations into the incident, and have reportedly summoned all 20 members of Adei Ad’s local security team for questioning on Sunday.
Several Adei Ad residents told the Walla news site Sunday that soldiers did use live ammunition at the scene, contradicting the army’s version of events. The settlers claimed the altercation started after a 19-year-old Jewish man was lightly stabbed by a group of three Palestinians who were trying to kidnap him.
The residents said that when the the civilian security team pursued the alleged attackers back to Mughayyir, they were set upon by “many Palestinians,” and only fired shots in the air after “they felt their lives were in danger.”
They claimed the IDF and border police forces responding to the incident also used live fire in the clashes in Mughayyir.
The Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah said Naasan, a father of four, was shot in the back with live ammunition.
According to Walla, the investigations into the incident will focus on Adei Ad’s civilian security team, and whether they were justified in entering a neighboring Palestinian village even though the young man who was attacked had escaped safely. The investigations will also look into whether the attack on the Jewish man was in fact a kidnapping attempt.
Some 3,000 Palestinians attended Naasan’s funeral in Mughayir on Sunday. Mourners called for vengeance as they carried his body, wrapped in the Palestinian flag and the yellow banner of the Fatah party of PA Presdident Mahmoud Abbas.
Ali Hassan, who witnessed Saturday’s clashes, said during the funeral that a group of around eight settlers dressed all in white arrived at the northern entrance of the village.
“We didn’t know what they wanted, we went to meet them and they started shooting,” Hassan said.
He said Nassan was helping evacuate other wounded Palestinians from the scene when he was himself hit, and that Israeli soldiers saw the incident but did not immediately intervene.
On Saturday, the head of the Mughayir village said also said the settlers had opened fire before the IDF moved in.
“At the beginning it was settlers shooting, then the army came and fired tear gas,” he told AFP by phone. Asked who shot Nassan, he said it was settlers.
UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov called the killing “shocking and unacceptable!” on Twitter, saying that Israel “must put an end to settler violence and bring those responsible to justice.”
AFP contributed to this report.