Deaths as Palestinian protests grip West Bank and Gaza

Two Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces as two Israeli settlers are killed in alleged Palestinian shooting attack.

Palestinian runs in front of an Israeli border police jeep before he was detained during clashes in the West Bank city of Tulkarm
Israeli forces have been criticised by human rights groups for their crackdown on Palestinian protesters [Reuters]

Three Palestinians have died from bullet wounds inflicted by Israeli troops, and two Israeli settlers have been shot dead in an attack as unrest continues to grip Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. 

 Israeli army unit storms hospital and kills Palestinian

In Budrus, a village in the central occupied West Bank, Israeli forces shot dead 22-year-old Lafi Awwad on Friday afternoon, according to the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health. 

Earlier in the day, Hassan Jehad al-Baw, 23, died in the southern West Bank city of Hebron’s al-Ahli hospital.He was shot in the heart by Israeli forces during a protest during the morning. 

Baw’s death came just hours after 18-year-old Mahmoud al-Shalaldeh died from gunshot wounds sustained during clashes with Israeli soldiers in Hebron a day earlier.

Shalaldeh’s cousin was also killed in a raid on the al-Ahli hospital by Israeli forces on Thursday.

“The situation is very bad here,” Issa Amro, coordinator of the Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements activist group, told Al Jazeera by phone. “People are very angry.” 

Suspect ‘fled the scene’

Clashes have spread throughout Hebron and the surrounding villages, according to local media reports. 

Speaking to Al Jazeera, an Israeli military spokesperson said that earlier in the afternoon, a gunman opened fire on a group of Israeli settlers near Otniel, an illegal settlement in the Hebron area of the West Bank. Two of the settlers were killed and one was injured. 

The Israeli army spokesperson said the settlers were killed when “shots were fired at their vehicle”, adding that the suspect “fled the scene”. 

In breach of international law, an estimated 547,000 Israelis live in Jewish settlements and outposts across the West Bank, including in occupied East Jerusalem, according to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem. 

Friday’s killings come on the heels of more than six weeks of unrest, with protests against Israel’s ongoing occupation spreading throughout Israel and the Palestinian territories. 

Israeli forces have responded with force, using live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades against protesters.

Since October 1, Israeli troops or settlers have killed at least 84 Palestinians, including unarmed protesters, bystanders and alleged attackers.

During that period, 12 Israelis have been killed in shooting or stabbing incidents carried out by Palestinians. 

Live ammunition

On Friday, Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli forces in areas across the West Bank, as well as in areas along Gaza’s border with Israel. 

More than 200 Palestinians gathered outside Beit El, an Israeli settlement near Ramallah.

“They are firing a lot of live ammunition,” Mohannad Darabee, a photographer at the clashes, told Al Jazeera by telephone, adding that at least 25 demonstrators were shot by live ammunition or rubber-coated steel bullets. 

“There are at least two Israeli snipers firing on the protesters,” he said. 

Another 500 Palestinian demonstrators gathered on the Israeli border in central Gaza, according to Ezz Zanoun, a local photographer who spoke to Al Jazeera from the protest.

“The protesters are mostly young people, and they are about 10 metres away from the soldiers,” Zanoun told Al Jazeera. 

“They are firing live bullets and gas at us, including the journalists. I saw one young guy shot in his leg. There was blood everywhere.” 

‘Intentional lethal force’

Human rights groups have slammed Israel’s use of force during the latest escalation. 

In a statement published on Thursday, Amnesty International denounced Israeli soldiers’ use of lethal force against suspected Palestinian attackers. 

“Israeli forces must immediately cease their use of intentional lethal force against people who are not posing an imminent threat to life,” Philip Luther, the director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa programme, said. 

“Israeli forces have a long history of carrying out unlawful killings in the occupied Palestinian territories, including extrajudicial executions.” 

According to statement published by al-Haq, a Ramallah-based human rights organisation, Israeli forces have employed a “policy of disproportionate indiscriminate and excessive use of force against Palestinians, including paramedics and health facilities”. 

Additional reporting by Patrick Strickland: @P_Strickland_ 

Source: Al Jazeera