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Palestinian shot dead after knifing Israeli: army, emergency services


A civilian shot dead a Palestinian who had knifed an Israeli near a settlement in the occupied West Bank, the army and emergency services said, the second of two deadly incidents on Wednesday.

The inauguration in late December of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, has sparked fears of a military escalation in the West Bank which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Late Wednesday the Palestinian health ministry identified the dead man who it said was “gunned down by the Israeli occupation forces” near Havat Yehuda settlement south of Hebron as Sanad Mohammad Samasra.

Israel’s army confirmed in a statement that “the terrorist was neutralised”, but told AFP the shooter was a civilian.

The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, gave Samasra’s age as 19.

Israeli emergency services said an Israeli aged about 30 was wounded in the Wednesday afternoon knife attack on a farm near the settlement of Shima.

They said the victim was taken to hospital in a stable condition.

The West Bank is home to about 2.9 million Palestinians. An estimated 475,000 Jewish settlers now also live in West Bank communities considered illegal under international law.

Just before his new government’s swearing-in, Netanyahu’s Likud party said the administration would pursue increased settlement expansion in the West Bank.

– Deadliest year –

Earlier Wednesday the health ministry said that in a separate incident, in the northern West Bank, “Ahmed Amer Salim Abu Junaid, 21, succumbed to critical wounds, after he was shot in the head by the occupation, this morning, in Balata refugee camp in Nablus.”

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the armed wing of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah movement, claimed the dead man as one of its members.

Clashes erupted early on Wednesday when troops entered the camp, the army said.

“Several suspects fired at the (Israeli) forces who responded back with live fire,” the statement said, indicating that one person was struck.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade said in a statement that it “mourns its martyr” after Abu Junaid was killed in a “confrontation with the Zionist enemy army.”

Wafa reported that undercover Israeli forces had “infiltrated the camp and surrounded a house”. It added that Israeli troops fired “live bullets, stun grenades and tear gas”.

Abu Junaid was initially transferred to Nablus’s Rafidia hospital before succumbing to his wounds several hours later, Wafa said.

Two of Netanyahu’s extreme-right coalition partners, who have a history of inflammatory remarks about Palestinians, have taken charge of critical powers regarding the West Bank.

Last week, Israeli forces killed Amer Abu Zeitoun, 16, during another operation in Nablus. Armed clashes had erupted between militants and Israeli forces, both sides said.

Last year was the deadliest in the West Bank since United Nations records began in 2005, with more than 150 Palestinians killed, the world body said in December.

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