Israeli settler shoots dead Palestinian protester

Mutaz Bani Shamsa killed by settler during a protest for hunger-striking prisoners, Palestinian health ministry says.

Israeli settlers clash with Palestinians
Israeli settlers often attack Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, say rights groups [File: Alaa Badarneh/EPA]

An Israeli settler has shot and killed a 23-year-old Palestinian during a protest in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners near Nablus in the occupied West Bank, according to Palestinian officials. 

The Palestinian health ministry said the victim succumbed to his wounds on Thursday shortly after being shot at by the settler who fired live ammunition on protesters near a military checkpoint in the village of Huwwara, local Ma’an News Agency reported. 

Palestinian security sources told AFP news agency that a clash near the checkpoint erupted when an Israeli settler in a car attempted to cross a crowd of protesters, with the settler and Israeli soldiers opening fire.

Families fear for Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners’ lives

The Palestinian killed was identified by local media and the health ministry as Mutaz Bani Shamsa, from a village near Nablus.

Israeli forces and settlers have killed at least 22 Palestinians, among them seven children, so far this year, according to an Al Jazeera count.

Palestinian journalist Majdi Eshtayya was also wounded with live bullets shot by the settler and was transferred to Rafidia hospital where medical sources described his injuries as moderate, Ma’an said.

Speaking to Al Jazeera by telephone, an Israeli army spokesperson confirmed that a Palestinian was shot dead near Huwwara, but she was unable to confirm the individual’s name.

Claiming that clashes broke out when Palestinians threw rocks at Israeli vehicles, she said: “One of the Israelis whose car was damaged claimed to have fired into the air. We are aware of one [fatality] and another that was injured.” 

Shamsa’s killing came just a week after Israeli forces shot dead 20-year-old Saba Nidal Obaid as he participated in a prisoner solidarity protest in the Ramallah-area village of Nabi Saleh.

READ MORE: Palestinian hunger strikers ‘had no choice’

Israel transferred the estimated 1,300 hunger-striking Palestinian political prisoners to three prisons with nearby hospitals late on Wednesday, according to a Palestinian official. The strike entered its 32nd day on Thursday. 

“This step indicates the seriousness of the health conditions of the hunger strikers,” said Issa Qaraqe, head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, in a statement, claiming that the prisoners were concentrated in the three facilities because of “their proximity to Israeli hospitals”. 

The Israel Prison Services did not reply to Al Jazeera’s inquiries. 

Settler attacks

More than half a million Israelis live in guarded, Jewish-only settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to the Israeli rights group B’TSelem. These settlements are considered illegal by the international community. 

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) documented 107 settler attacks on Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 2016, and another 46 attacks so far this year. 

READ MORE: Israeli settler attacks deepen fears among Palestinians

Just a day before Shamsa’s killing, a group of settlers attacked and hospitalised a Palestinian civilian, Youssef Abu Bakr, near the Huwwara area, reported Ma’an. 

Human rights groups have often argued that Israeli settlers enjoy impunity when they commit violence targeting Palestinians or their property. 

Of 289 cases of ideologically-motivated offences documented by the Yesh Din rights group between 2013 and 2016, only 8.2 percent led to indictments against offenders, according to the group’s March 2017 report

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Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies