Troops open fire on Palestinians throwing fire bombs near settlement, 1 hurt

Wounded man taken for treatment, IDF says a second person was arrested and searches were on for several others near Beit El, north of Ramallah

Illustrative: Palestinian protesters use slingshots to throw stones towards Israeli soldiers during clashes with Israeli troops near the settlement of Bet El November 13, 2015. (FLASH90)
Illustrative: Palestinian protesters use slingshots to throw stones towards Israeli soldiers during clashes with Israeli troops near the settlement of Bet El November 13, 2015. (FLASH90)

Israel Defense Force soldiers opened fire on a group of Palestinians who were throwing fire bombs near the West Bank settlement of Beit El late Tuesday, wounding one of them, the army said.

A second man was arrested after a chase, while several others managed to escape, the army said, adding that it was continuing searches in the area just north of Ramallah.

The wounded man was taken for treatment, the IDF said.

Earlier Tuesday, a Palestinian man was shot and killed while apparently attempting to run over Border Police officers with his car, Israeli police said.

Police said in a statement that the incident, which took place in the West Bank town of Abu Dis east of Jerusalem, appeared to be a deliberate attack.

One Border Police officer was lightly injured while leaping out of the way and taken to a Jerusalem hospital for treatment.

The driver, identified in reports as a Palestinian man, was initially listed in serious condition but authorities later said he died of his injuries.

Palestinian media identified the driver as Ahmad Mustafa Erekat, 27, and claimed that he was traveling to Bethlehem on his sister’s wedding day to help his mother and sisters prepare for the wedding.

The man “drove his vehicle quickly towards the direction of a female border police officer who was injured lightly,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

The incident took place days before a possible Israeli annexation of some as-yet unspecified portion of the West Bank, as the Israel Defense Forces prepared for a wide range of scenarios for potential regional fallout — up to and including a large-scale wave of terror attacks.

According to a Channel 12 news report Sunday, the IDF is preparing for three possible violent reactions to annexation.

The first would see mass protests by Palestinians; the second, shooting and car-ramming attacks in the West Bank; the third, a return to the waves of suicide bombings seen during the Second Intifada in 2000-2004.

Israeli soldiers stand guard near the scene of an apparent attempted car-ramming attack by the West Bank settlement of Halamish on May 29, 2020. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

The coalition agreement between Likud and Blue and White stipulates that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can advance an annexation proposal in the cabinet or Knesset beginning July 1. Netanyahu has promised to do so at that date, though he has faced growing pressure from all sides, including leaders of West Bank settlements, to delay the move.

It is not clear that Netanyahu has decided regarding the scale of the annexation. Officials from the Prime Minister’s Office have suggested different scenarios in recent weeks, including an annexation that includes the Jordan Valley, which makes up almost 30 percent of the West Bank, and one limited to lands administered by Israeli settlements, or roughly 3% of the area.

While the coalition agreement lets Netanyahu move ahead with annexation without his Blue and White coalition partners, the Trump administration has reportedly asked the prime minister to obtain the support of his centrist partners in order to ensure Washington’s backing.

AFP contributed to this report.

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