Friday, Sep 30, 2022

Palestinian Attackers Kill Israeli Guard In West Bank, Israel launches Manhunt

The Friday's attack is the latest of Palestinian attacks in Israel in last two months in which 15 Israelis have been killed.

Israeli security forces personnel during a counter-terrorism operation
Israeli security forces personnel during a counter-terrorism operation Twitter/Israeli Defense Forces

Palestinian attackers on late Friday shot and killed a security guard at the entrance of a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, according to the Israeli military. 

The Friday's attack is the latest of Palestinian attacks in Israel in last two months in which 15 Israelis have been killed. At least 27 Palestinians have also been killed in this period, including those who carried out these attacks in Israel.

The Israeli military said in early hours of Saturday that the attackers arrived at the Ariel settlement entrance and shot the guard in his post before fleeing the scene. The military launched a pursuit of the suspects in the West Bank. The fresh attack could further fuel Israeli-Palestinian tensions that have soared in the past two months.

The Israeli authorities have said that two purported members of Hamas have been arrested, but there was no immediate indication that the men were involved in the attack.

Hamas, the militant group ruling Gaza, praised the Friday's attack but did not claim its responsibility. Group spokesman Hazem Qassem said, "The operation proves that revolution is raging all over the West Bank. This is a practical implementation of our people's declaration that Jerusalem is a red line."

In a separate incident, Israeli troops shot and killed a 27-year-old Palestinian man during clashes at Azoun village near the town of Qalqilya early on Saturday, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Clashes have also occured through the month at a major holy site in Jerusalem that contains Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. Large number of Palestinians go there to pray during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. On Friday, Palestinians hurled stones and Israeli police fired rubber-coated bullets at the site, which has seen a wave of unrest in recent weeks. More than 150 people were injured in clashes at the site on 15 April.

About Friday's clashes, the police said Palestinians inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound began hurling stones and fireworks around dawn in the direction of a heavily guarded gate that leads to the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray. The police advanced into the compound, firing rubber-coated bullets. The violence ended around an hour later after other Palestinians in the compound intervened, convincing the stone throwers and the police to pull back.

The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said more than 40 people were wounded, with 22 requiring treatment at local hospitals. It said Israeli forces prevented first responders from entering the compound during the clashes, and that one of its medics was beaten by police. The Israeli police said they were unfamiliar with the claims that they had prevented medical workers from entering the area, calling it a “distorted” version of events. They also said three people were arrested.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is built on a hilltop that is the most sacred site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount because it was the location of the Jewish temples in antiquity. It has long been a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Palestinians say the presence of Israeli police at the site, and regular visits by increasing numbers of nationalist and religious Jews, are a violation of decades-old informal arrangements governing the site. The visits were halted last week for the last 10 days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which concludes this weekend. 

(With AP inputs)