An Israeli settler shot and killed a Palestinian man on Wednesday after an alleged stabbing attack near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, according to the Israeli army.
Medical sources said the Palestinian, identified as Mohammad Abdul-Fattah, a resident from the northern West Bank district of Salfit, was in critical condition. He was taken to an Israeli hospital east of Tel Aviv, where he was pronounced dead, according to Maan news agency.
A Nablus hospital said another Palestinian, 22-year-old Khaled Rawajbeh, was moderately wounded in Wednesday’s shooting, which took place near a checkpoint.
There were conflicting accounts from witnesses as to how the second Palestinian was wounded. One account attributed it to “occupation forces” while Maan reported it was stray fire from the first shooting.
No Israelis were wounded.
Witnesses refuted the Israeli military’s statement and denied a stabbing attempt had taken place, local media reported.
According to Maan, Abdul-Fattah, a truck driver, had left his vehicle after the settler blocked the road with his car. The settler prevented him from driving on despite holding an Israeli license plate, and shortly after he opened fire towards the two Palestinian men.
Israeli media identified the settler as Joshua Sherman from the illegal settlement of Elon Moreh east of Nablus.
Sherman told local media that the Palestinian “jumped on the car with a knife and tried to open the door.”
Elon Moreh is home to nearly 2,000 Jewish settlers who live among several other illegal outposts and settlements that form a ring around Nablus, heavily restricting Palestinian movement in the area, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem.
Settlements are considered illegal under international law and are a major sticking point for peace efforts between Israel and Palestinian leaders.
In January, Israeli settlers shot and killed Hamdi Naasan, a 38-year-old Palestinian, when they attacked the Palestinian village of al-Mugheir in the West Bank.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the average number of violent incidents instigated by settlers every month increased by 57 percent in 2018 compared with 2017, and by 175 percent compared with 2016.
Since 2015, Israeli forces have killed over 260 Palestinians, while Palestinians have killed over 50 Israelis in West Bank in sporadic attacks during the same period.
Palestinians say the attacks stem from anger over decades of Israeli occupation in territory they claim for their state. Israel blames the violence on incitement by Palestinian political and religious leaders.
A number of local and international human rights groups have raised concerns that Israeli forces have used excessive force when confronting Palestinians who had carried out attacks or been suspected of doing so.