Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened a series of violations of international law after 24 hours of deadly attacks and raids across the West Bank that left four Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers dead.
Those pledges include collective punishment measures such as the punitive demolition of homes belonging to the families of suspected Palestinian assailants as well as accelerated settlement building.
Such moves will entrench Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, now in its 51st year, and its settler colony project which it enforces with routine and frequently deadly violence against Palestinians.
Netanyahu also said “Our guiding principle is that whoever attacks us and whoever tries to attack us will pay with his life,” adding that “Our enemies know this and we will find them.”
Israel seals Ramallah
On Thursday occupation forces sealed the city of Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, closing all points of exit and entry to the city. The Palestinian governor’s office announced that it would provide shelter to those stranded as a result of the closure.
The sealing of Ramallah was part of a manhunt after two Israeli soldiers were fatally wounded during a drive-by shooting attack outside the Givat Assaf settlement outpost earlier in the day. A third soldier was critically wounded by a gunshot wound to the head and a civilian woman was also seriously injured, according to Israeli media.
Thursday’s shooting was similar to one on Sunday near the West Bank city of Ofra. An Israeli woman in her seventh month of pregnancy was critically injured in that drive-by shooting attack. The injured woman’s baby died on Wednesday after being delivered prematurely on Sunday. Six others were lightly to moderately injured, including the pregnant woman’s husband.
West Bank settler leaders demanded to “see the blood of the terrorists” during the baby’s funeral Wednesday night, Israeli media reported.
Salah Barghouti, a 29-year-old resident of Kobar village near Ramallah that Israel said was behind the fatal shooting on Sunday, was killed by occupation forces in the village of Surda late Wednesday.
Barghouti’s father told media late Wednesday that he received a call from a friend in the village who told him that Israeli forces had opened fire on his son Salah’s car and then arrested him. The elder Barghouti did not appear to know his son was dead as he spoke.
Another eyewitness said that local people examined the car after the incident and saw a bullet hole in the window and seat, but no sign of blood. The eyewitness suggested that Salah Barghouti was taken away without signs of injury.
Israeli forces later came back and took away the car as well.
Israeli military officials said that a search for others involved in the shooting was ongoing and that four others were arrested.
The car that Israel claims was used in the attack was confiscated in Ramallah overnight Wednesday:
Palestinian killed after two-month manhunt
Another Palestinian suspected of shooting and two killing Israelis at a West Bank settlement industrial plant in early October was shot dead by occupation forces in the northern West Bank early Thursday.
Israel claimed that its forces killed Ashraf Naalwa, 23, after he opened fire on them during a raid on a home in Askar al-Jadid refugee camp near the city of Nablus.
Local residents described how Israeli soldiers forced their way into their home during the raid, and how they heard heavy shooting during an operation that lasted hours.
Palestinian media reported that Israeli forces prevented medics from reaching Naalwa and transporting his body, which was taken by the military.
A senior military official told Israeli media that Naalwa “made almost no mistakes” during his two-month evasion of capture by the army. The official also said that Naalwa carried out the attack in the Barkan settlement industrial zone alone, without any direction or assistance from an armed faction.
Meanwhile a Palestinian was shot dead by police in Jerusalem early Thursday.
Majd Mteir, a 25-year-old resident of Qalandiya refugee camp near Ramallah, was killed while attempting to stab police officers in the Old City. Two police officers were moderately and lightly wounded.
Video published by Israeli media shows a man, presumably Mteir, lunging towards officers and a knife lying on the ground:
Palestinian motorist killed by soldiers
Palestinians and Israeli media have cast doubt on Israel’s claim that a man killed in the West Bank on Thursday afternoon was attempting to attack soldiers with his car when he was shot dead near Ramallah.
Hamdan al-Arda, a 58-year-old from Arrabeh in the northern West Bank, was fatally wounded a short distance from the headquarters of his aluminum company in the town of al-Bireh. A photo of al-Arda was published by Palestinian outlets after the announcement of his death:
Palestinian medics said that soldiers prevented them from accessing al-Arda after he was shot.
Soldiers also prevented journalists from accessing the area:
Eyewitnesses told the Ma’an News Agency, a Palestinian outlet, “that the incident was merely a car accident,” as the driver was surprised to find Israeli soldiers in the street “and attempted to turn away from them before they heavily opened fire at him.”
Israel’s Channel 10, “citing defense sources, said the incident was likely not terror-related,” according to The Times of Israel.
Al-Arda’s family told the Israeli daily Haaretz that the slain man “suffered from hearing loss [and] that they thought he must have failed to hear soldiers’ warnings.”
Israelis attack Palestinian cars
A thousand Israelis protested outside Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem, calling for his resignation on Thursday, while others lit tires on the road leading to Gaza’s sole commercial crossing, calling for its closure.
Israeli settlers staged protests in the West Bank under the guard of the military:
Settlers also attacked Palestinian motorists in the West Bank. Graphic video shows a Palestinian bus driver with a badly injured eye after being attacked near the village of Nilin in the central West Bank.
They also attacked Palestinian homes and parked cars south of Nablus:
Of the nearly 300 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces so far this year, 33 were slain in the West Bank.
Thirteen Israelis were killed by Palestinians in the West Bank during the same period.