In continued escalation of Israeli-Palestinian tensions, a 14-year-old Palestinian was killed on Monday in an Israeli raid in West Bank.
Later on Monday, the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas released a video showing an Israeli man in captivity. The rare footage surfaced on the day Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi was sworn in as the new commander of Israel's military. The action was declared as a challenge to the Israeli military.
The incidents came at a time when tensions are already high as Israeli forces are carrying out frequent raids in West Bank. The year 2022 was also the deadliest since 2006 as around 150 Palestinians were killed in clashes and dozens of Israelis were killed in Palestinian attacks.
Palestinian teen shot dead
The 14-year-old Palestinian killed in a raid by Israeli forcs in a refugee camp in West Bank. Palestinian officials identified him as Omar Khumour.
Omar died after being struck in the head by a bullet during an Israeli military raid into Dheisha refugee camp near the city of Bethlehem, said officials.
The Israeli army said forces entered the Dheisha camp and were bombarded by Molotov cocktails and rocks. It said soldiers responded to the onslaught with live fire.
The death of Omar brings the toll of Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank so far this year to 14, including three people under the age of 18, according to a tally by The Associated Press.
The Israeli military has been conducting near-nightly arrest raids in the territory since last spring. The raids were prompted by a wave of Palestinian attacks against Israelis that killed at least 29 Israelis.
Israel says the raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. The Palestinians see them as further entrenchment of Israel's open-ended, 55-year occupation of lands they seek for their future state.
Hamas captures Israeli man
The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas released a video on Monday of an Israeli it said was being held captive in the Gaza Strip.
The Hamas described the rare footage as a warning to Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, Israel's newly sworn-in military chief.
The captive man has been identified as Avera Mengistu. The Hamas' military wing, the Qassam Brigades, shared the video, which purportedly shows Mengistu calling on the Israeli military to secure his freedom. It remained unclear when the video was taken.
Mengistu, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent, independently crossed the Israeli fence that surrounds the blockaded Gaza Strip in 2014, following a devastating 50-day war between Israel and Hamas. His family has said that he has psychiatric problems.
The issue of Israelis in captivity is an emotional one in Israel, with the Israeli government having paid a high price for the return of its citizens or the remains of its soldiers in past politically contentious prisoner exchanges. Hamas is also holding another Israeli citizen captive, Hisham al-Sayed, as well as the remains of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, two soldiers killed in the 2014 war.
Hamas has not said where it is holding the prisoners or the soldiers' remains, and it has not allowed humanitarian visits by international officials to see them. The terrorist group has on rare occasions released photos and footage of the captives. Last year, Hamas released a short video showing a sickly al-Sayed splayed on a bed and struggling to breathe with an oxygen mask.
“How long will I be here?” the man purported to be Mengistu asks in the video, broadcast Monday on the Hamas-run satellite channel Al Aqsa. “My companions and I are in captivity. ... Where are the state and the people of Israel?”
The Israeli military had no immediate comment.
Hamas released the video on the day that Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi was sworn in as the new commander of Israel's military. In a statement accompanying the footage, Hamas warned Halevi that he would “bear the burden” of his predecessor's failure to free Israeli captives held in the Palestinian enclave.
The Hamas is a terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip. It frequently harasses Israel with rockets and has fought devastating wars with Israel. It has also carried out a number of suicide bombings.
"The group’s ideology blends Islamism and Palestinian nationalism and seeks the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River... Hamas’s preferred methods include suicide bombings, rocket and mortar attacks, shootings, and kidnappings," notes the think tank Counter Extremism Project.
(With AP inputs)