NABLUS, PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: A Palestinian was killed by an Israeli settler during a clash near the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank on Thursday during protests in support of hunger-striking prisoners.
The clash near Hawara military checkpoint in the northern West Bank erupted when an Israeli settler in a car attempted to pass through a crowd of Palestinian protesters, with the settler and Israeli soldiers opening fire, Palestinian security sources said. The Palestinian killed was identified by the health ministry as Muataz Bani Shemsay, 23, from a village near Nablus. He was shot in the head, it said. A photographer with Associated Press news agency was also wounded by gunfire but was in stable condition, medics said.
An Israeli military spokesperson said a “violent riot broke out” that saw Palestinians throw rocks at passing cars. Soldiers “responded with riot-dispersal means. One of the Israeli citizens whose car was damaged from the rocks fired into the air.” The spokesperson confirmed one person was killed and another wounded. “From what we understand it is not from [soldiers’] fire, but the incident is still under review,” she said.
Hundreds of Palestinians had gathered at an Israeli military checkpoint at Huwara, south of Nablus and the regular site of clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian stone-throwers. The protest was held in support of hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails on hunger strike since April 17.
An Israeli settler attempted to drive into the crowd, the security sources said, and was surrounded by protesters who threw stones at the car. He then got out of the car and opened fire along with soldiers who deployed, the sources said.
On Thursday evening hundreds of Palestinians from Al-Amari refugee camp in the West Bank city of Ramallah and nearby Qalandia gathered at a military checkpoint outside Jerusalem. From behind a barricade of burning tyres and scrap metal they hurled rocks and petrol bombs at soldiers, who responded by firing rubber bullets and tear gas, AFP journalists at the scene said. They were also protesting in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, fasting since April 17 over demands for improved conditions.
The health of several had already declined but several on Thursday intensified their protest, saying they would no longer drink. An Israeli Prisons Service spokesperson told AFP that “several dozen” hunger strikers were moved from prisons in southern Israel to facilities nearer the centre of the country with faster access to hospitals “in case there is a need to move them very, very quickly.” He did not elaborate.
In the Gaza strip, armed militant groups pledged “not to remain with arms folded” if fasting prisoners were to meet grave physical harm. “The enemy only understands the language of force and we are ready to speak in the way they understand best,” they said at a news conference.
A wave of unrest that broke out in October 2015 has claimed the lives of 264 Palestinians, 41 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP count. Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, the Israeli authorities say.
Others were shot dead during protests or clashes, while some were killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip. The violence has subsided in recent months.
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