Israeli forces kill Palestinian teenager in occupied West Bank

Hamza Amjad al-Ashqar, 17, was killed after a bullet fired by Israeli forces hit his face during a raid in Nablus, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Israeli forces gather during a Palestinian protest demanding Israel to reopen closed roads leading to Nablus.
At least 42 Palestinians have been killed as Israeli raids in the West Bank have intensified in recent months [File: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

Israeli forces have killed a Palestinian teenager during a raid in the West Bank city of Nablus, the Palestinian health ministry said, a day after Israel killed five Palestinians in Jericho as part of its intensified deadly raids in the occupied territory.

The ministry on Tuesday said 17-year-old Hamza Amjad al-Ashqar was “killed by a bullet in the face fired by the occupation soldiers during the aggression on Nablus”.

The Israeli army described al-Ashqar as a gunman who had fired on troops, according to Reuters.

The 17-year-old has become the latest casualty in what is already one of the most violent periods in the occupied West Bank since 2002. The number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of this year has reached 42, including civilians and fighters, raising fears of a third Intifada, or mass Palestinian uprising.

On January 27, a Palestinian gunman killed seven people in the occupied East Jerusalem, a day after an Israeli raid in the West Bank city of Jenin killed 10 Palestinians.

Israel says the raids are a security measure targeting suspected fighters. It has resorted to what rights organisations say are disproportionate measures such as the bulldozing of houses of Palestinians involved in attacks.

But Palestinians say the raids and other measures are a form of collective punishment for their fight against decades of Israeli occupation.

The Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, declared it would cease security coordination with Israel in the wake of the deadly Jenin raid.

Israeli forces arrested at least 18 Palestinians in the northern West Bank town of Burqin near Jenin, the Palestinian Prisoners Club advocacy group said on Tuesday.

The violence has prompted calls for calm on both sides from the United States and international organisations including the United Nations.

The Lions’ Den, a group of Nablus fighters with loose factional affiliations, said some of its members exchanged fire with Israeli forces who had “stormed a housing area”.

The group said the killed teenager was from the Askar refugee camp near Nablus but did not claim him as a member.

Nearly 200 Palestinians, both fighters and civilians, were killed last year in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, making it the deadliest year in those areas since 2004. Palestinian attacks against Israelis killed some 30 people in 2022.

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war. It later annexed East Jerusalem – a step not recognised internationally. Israeli forces pulled out of Gaza in 2005 but maintain a crippling land, air and sea blockade of the territory – home to two million people.

The Palestinians fear that their hope for a future sovereign state will be rendered unviable amid the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Israeli far-right government has pledged to build more settlements on Palestinian land. Settlements are considered illegal under international laws.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies