Israel kills four Palestinians in West Bank

Palestinians mourn one of two young men killed by Israeli forces in Nablus overnight Tuesday, 20 March.

Shadi Jarar’ah APA images

Israeli forces killed four Palestinians in the occupied West Bank overnight Tuesday and on Wednesday.

The slain men include a Palestinian suspected by Israel of fatally injuring a soldier and a settler, and two young men who Israel claims threw an explosive device at soldiers guarding hundreds of settlers who had raided Joseph’s Tomb in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Local eyewitnesses contradicted the Israeli account of the killings in Nablus and said the car in which the two young men were traveling was fired on and then pushed by a bulldozer with them inside.

Photos of the three slain overnight Tuesday were published by Palestinian media outlets after their deaths:

The fourth man killed, Ahmad Manasra, 26, was shot by soldiers on Wednesday night while traveling in a car with another man who was critically wounded at a checkpoint at the entrance to the West Bank city of Bethlehem. A photo of Manasra was published by media after his death:

Twenty-nine Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza so far this year.

Palestinians have declared a day of rage on Friday in protest of the slayings, with political factions calling for protests at Beit El checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Omar Abu Leila, 19, was killed in Abwein village north of Ramallah two days after allegedly stabbing and killing a soldier, taking his gun, and opening fire at passing vehicles, fatally injuring a rabbi living in a settlement.

Occupation forces surrounded the home in which Abu Leila was hiding on Tuesday night and called on him to surrender, according to media reports. Israeli officials claimed that Abu Leila was killed during a shootout. No Israelis were injured.

Video shows the aftermath at the place where Abu Leila was killed:

Israel has withheld Abu Leila’s body, bringing to 40 the number of recently slain Palestinians whose remains are held by Israel:

Earlier Tuesday, Tamar Ettinger, the wife of the slain rabbi, called for the death penalty for Palestinians who attack Israelis during a condolence visit by Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister.

Netanyahu said that his government is attempting to advance legislation that would allow for Palestinians convicted of fatal attacks on Israelis to be punished by death.

A de facto death penalty, however, has seen the execution of dozens of Palestinians during alleged and actual attacks on Israelis, as well as the killing without judicial process of Palestinians suspected of killing and injuring Israelis.

In many such cases, no Israelis were injured during what Israel claimed were attacks on soldiers or civilians.

The Israeli rights group B’Tselem has excoriated Israel’s top leadership, particularly Netanyahu, for an open-fire policy that it says amounts to “street executions.”

Following Abu Leila’s killing, Tamar Ettinger called for further reprisal: “We expect from the government of Israel that it fight to eradicate this terrorism, and that it go further and expel the terrorist’s family, his entire family, and his entire village.”

Israel has already begun preparations to destroy the home belonging to Abu Leila’s family in an act of collective punishment prohibited under international law.

Palestinians killed by soldiers guarding settlers

The two young Palestinians killed by occupation forces in the northern West Bank city of Nablus early Wednesday were identified as Raed Hashim Muhammad Hamdan, 21, and Zaid Imad Muhammad Nuri, 20.

Israeli forces opened fire towards a vehicle in which the two were traveling after the young men threw an explosive device at soldiers on patrol as hundreds of settlers raided Joseph’s Tomb. No Israelis were injured.

Palestinian media reported that Israeli soldiers fired dozens of bullets toward the car in which Hamdan and Nuri were traveling when it stopped before a checkpoint.

Local eyewitnesses said that there was no fire from the car towards the soldiers.

Eyewitnesses told media that after Israeli forces fired at the car, an Israeli army bulldozer turned it over and damaged it as the screams of the two young men could be heard from inside, before they fell silent.

Media circulated photos and videos of the bulldozer crushing the car with its blade:

The two Palestinians were then removed from the wrecked car and left on the ground for two hours.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society told media that soldiers prevented medics from reaching Hamdan and Nuri.

Joseph’s Tomb is an archaeological site nominally under Palestinian Authority control but which is frequently raided by settlers under Israeli army escort, provoking confrontations with Palestinians.

Suspected Israeli settlers vandalized vehicles in the Palestinian town of Battir near the West Bank city of Bethehem, it was reported Wednesday.

Windows were smashed and the vehicles were spray-painted with Hebrew-language messages such as “We do not sleep while our brothers are being slain,” presumably referring to the slaying of two Israelis on Sunday.

The UN monitoring group OCHA documented a sharp uptick in Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians and their property last year, with a nearly 80 percent increase in incidents over 2017, resulting in the death of a woman and the injury of 115 other Palestinians.

“Palestinian property vandalized by settlers includes some 8,000 trees and about 620 vehicles,” OCHA stated.

Israeli forces fired stun grenades and tear gas at Palestinian students in al-Bireh, near Ramallah, protesting the overnight killings on Wednesday. More than a dozen were reportedly injured by rubber-coated bullets.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is the managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.