Officials say Israeli forces have shot and killed two Palestinians, including an unarmed woman, in confrontations across Israel and the occupied West Bank.
TEL AVIV, Israel – Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinians, including an unarmed woman, in confrontations across Israel and the occupied West Bank on Sunday, Israeli and Palestinian officials said. It was the latest in a growing wave of violence that has erupted during the holy month of Ramadan.
The shootings came as Israeli troops battled the northern city of Jenin in the West Bank and surrounding area, home to two of the Palestinians who in recent weeks staged deadly attacks on Israelis. Ramadan this year converges with major Jewish and Christian holidays. Protests during Ramadan last year boiled over into an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza militants.
“We will be in any place at any time as needed to stop these terrorist attacks. Israel is going on the offensive,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told his cabinet.
Four attacks by Palestinians in recent weeks have killed 14 people in one of the deadliest outbreaks of violence against Israelis in years. In response, Israel has stepped up its military activity in the West Bank.
At a military checkpoint near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Israeli soldiers opened fire on a woman whom the army said failed to heed calls to stop and ignored warning shots fired into the air.
The army said soldiers were aiming at the woman’s lower body. But the Palestinian Ministry of Health said the woman later died of her injuries at a hospital. Local news reports said she was a 47-year-old mother of six. The Israeli military confirmed that the woman was found unarmed and said the incident was under investigation.
Palestinian assailants often carry out attacks at checkpoints in the West Bank. But Palestinians and human rights groups say the military often uses excessive force and in some cases has injured or killed people who were not involved in violence.
In the volatile city of Hebron in the southern West Bank, Israeli border police said an officer shot another woman, who stabbed and lightly wounded him near the Patriarchal Cave, a sacred place revered by Jews and Muslims. Palestinian officials said the woman was killed.
More violence erupted later Sunday as Israeli forces patrolled Jenin, considered a stronghold of Palestinian militants, as soldiers searched the home of an assailant who killed three Israelis in a mass shooting last week. The army said soldiers came under fire from an armed man on a motorcycle and shot him. The man’s condition was not immediately known.
Israel has taken a number of steps to try to calm the situation, including giving thousands of Palestinians from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip permission to work inside Israel. At the same time, it has tightened security measures in hopes of preventing further violence.
Defense Secretary Benny Gantz on Sunday signed an order to place two Palestinian citizens in Israel in administrative detention, a controversial practice that allows authorities to detain them without charge. One suspect was remanded in custody for four months on suspicion of plotting an attack, while the other suspect was jailed for six months for what he said was previous involvement in militant activity, the defense ministry said.
The Israeli security cabinet approved a plan to spend just over $ 110 million on expanding about 40 kilometers (25 miles) of the porous separation barrier in the West Bank. Some of the attackers are believed to have slipped into Israel without permits.
Late Saturday, Israel announced it was tightening restrictions on movement in and out of Jenin, though it continued to allow workers to enter Israel to work. A raid on one of the assailants’ homes on Saturday triggered a gun battle that left at least one Palestinian militant dead.
Jenin Governor Akram Rajoub condemned the ongoing Israeli activity in the area, calling the measures “an expression of collective punishment” that should disrupt the lives of Palestinians instead of preventing attacks.
In Sunday’s raid, the military said a “violent riot” broke out as forces operated in the village of Yabad, home to one of the attackers. It said forces opened fire and shot a Palestinian who threw an explosive at them. It was unclear what his condition was.
Forces arrested at least eight suspects and found Israeli military ammunition and uniforms in one of the suspects’ homes, as well as illegal weapons, the military said.
Previously has brig. Gen. Ran Kochav, the top military spokesman, told Israeli army radio that about 100 Palestinians marched on Joseph’s tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus late Saturday and set it on fire before being dispersed by Palestinian security forces. Photos on social media showed parts of the tomb inside the sanctuary smashed and charred.
Joseph’s Tomb is a hotspot. Some Jews believe that the biblical Joseph is buried in the tomb, while Muslims say that a sheikh is buried there. The army escorts Jewish worshipers to the site several times a year in coordination with Palestinian security forces.
The incident sparked condemnation from Israeli leaders. “The vandalism of Joseph’s tomb is a serious event and a serious violation of the freedom of worship in one of the holiest sites for any Jew,” Gantz tweeted.