Violence in the occupied West Bank continued Saturday with Israelis attacking Palestinian residents and a Palestinian shooter killed by Israeli forces at a checkpoint, officials on both sides said.
The latest incidents add to the mounting toll that has cost four Israeli and 16 Palestinian lives across the territory since Monday.
Palestinians have described hundreds of Israelis attacking their villages in recent days, after Palestinian gunmen killed four Israelis near a West Bank settlement on Tuesday.
The heads of the Israeli military, police and the Shin Bet domestic security agency on Saturday described as “nationalist terrorism” the series of attacks by Israelis targeting Palestinians in West Bank.
“This violence increases Palestinian terrorism and harms the state of Israel and the international legitimacy of the Israeli security forces to fight Palestinian terrorism,” a joint statement said.
In the latest incident, the Israeli army said it had “thrown stones and received reports of Israeli citizens burning Palestinian property” in the northern village of Umm Safa.
One soldier was wounded and one Israeli was arrested, the army said.
The Palestinian health ministry said the ambulance was “pelted with stones by (Israeli) settlers” near Umm Safa, injuring the driver.
Israel conquered the West Banksince the 1967 Six Day War and, excluding occupied east Jerusalem, the territory is now home to some 490,000 Israelis who live in settlements considered illegal under international law .
The Palestinians, who are seeking their own independent state, want Israel to leave all the land it occupied in the Six-Day War and dismantle all Jewish settlements.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to “strengthen the settlements” and has expressed no interest in reviving the peace talks, which have been dead since 2014.
Netanyahu’s coalition consists of hardline settlers, including far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.
Shooting at the checkpoint
Ahmad Tibi, an Arab-Israeli lawmaker, visited the West Bank village of Turmus Ayya last Saturday where he assessed the damage from previous reprisals.
“The Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves before those who come to burn their house and burn their wife and grandchild,” he said.
Diplomats from more than 20 missions, including the European Union and the United States, visited Turmus Ayya on Friday where they condemned the attack in which a Palestinian was shot dead.
In further violence Saturday, the Israeli police said at the Qalandia checkpoint a “suspect opened fire on the security forces”, who shot back.
“The death of the terrorist was later determined at the scene,” a police statement said.
The crossing serves as the main gateway used by Palestinians between annexed east Jerusalem and Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority which has partial administrative control over West Bank.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a Palestinian militant group, said in a statement that “our heroic fighters… were able to directly target the occupation (Israeli) soldiers at the checkpoint in Qalandia.”
The official Palestinian news agency Wafa identified the man shot dead as Ishaq al-Ajluni, aged 17 or 18, from the Kufr Aqab neighborhood north of the checkpoint.
This year, violence linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has killed at least 176 Palestinians, 25 Israelis, one Ukrainian and one Italian.
The tally compiled from official sources includes fighters as well as civilians and, on the Israeli side, three members of the Arab minority.