Israeli forces kill Palestinian in clash amid uptick in violence


RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories, Feb 7, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian during clashes in the West Bank on Friday, the Palestinian health ministry said, part of a spike in violence after Washington announced a controversial Middle East plan.

The fatality brings to five the number killed in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem since US President Donald Trump angered the Palestinians with his plan released last week.

The Palestinian health ministry said Badr Nafla, 19, died after being shot by Israeli forces in the neck during clashes near the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem.

The Israeli army said troops had fired at “a Palestinian who hurled a Molotov cocktail at them” and posed a risk in the course of “a violent riot,” during which stones and firebombs were thrown at the soldiers.

On Thursday two Palestinians were killed in clashes in the West Bank and an Arab Israeli was shot dead after opening fire on police near the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Fourteen Israelis were injured in a car ramming targeting soldiers in Jerusalem the same day.

On Wednesday, a Palestinian teenager was shot dead by Israeli troops during a clash in the West Bank city of Hebron.

Israeli security had deployed additional forces Friday in the West Bank and Jerusalem, where 25,000 Palestinians gathered at Al-Aqsa for noon prayers that passed off without incident, an AFP photographer said.

The site is a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is holy to both Muslims and Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP there was “heightened security in Jerusalem,” including extra units, particularly “in and around the area of the Old City”.

He said an increased police presence would remain.

– Trading accusations –

Small clashes broke out in different parts of the West Bank Friday, AFP reporters said.

On Thursday, two Palestinians were killed in clashes between the Israeli army and stone-throwing demonstrators in the northern city of Jenin.

In Jerusalem a man drove his car into a group of Israeli soldiers, injuring 14 before fleeing the scene, officials said.

He was later arrested and is being questioned, Rosenfeld said.

The rise in violence comes a week after Trump’s release of his vision for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It would grant Israel a number of its long-held goals, including full control of disputed Jerusalem and a green light to annex all settlements and other parts of the West Bank.

In exchange the Palestinians would be offered a state in the remaining parts of the West Bank and Gaza.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas immediately rejected the plan and called for street demonstrations.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and chief architect of the plan, said Thursday that Abbas “does have a responsiblity” for the uptick in violence.

“He calls for days of rage in response and he said that even before he saw the plan,” Kushner told reporters after briefing UN Security Council members behind closed doors in New York.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Twitter Friday that Kushner’s plan had “enabled Israel to move ahead with further annexation/colonisation.

“But he blames President Abbas because according to those like him, our mere existence and rights… are the problem,” Erekat added.