Israeli wounded in occupied West Bank shooting

Wounded Israeli and soldiers returned fire, wounding Palestinian gunman, who was arrested, Israeli army says.

Israel’s ambulance and rescue service said a 30-year-old man was wounded when the vehicle he was travelling in came under fire in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Sunday.

The Israeli military said it received a report of a “shooting incident” in Huwara, a town that has been a focus of Israeli military raids and a settler rampage in recent weeks.

Israeli medics said a man was shot in the upper body and was seriously wounded, while his wife who was in the car when it was shot at, was taken to hospital for traumatic shock.

The Israeli army said in a statement that “soldiers and one of the injured civilians responded with live fire toward the terrorist and hit him”.

After initially fleeing the scene, Israeli forces “located the injured terrorist and apprehended him”, it said. His condition was not immediately clear.

Neither the Palestinian group Hamas nor Islamic Jihad claimed the attack, but they released similarly-worded statements describing it as a “normal response to the crimes of the occupation”.

The shooting came as Israeli and Palestinian officials held talks in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh seeking to restore calm after a surge in deadly violence in the West Bank and ahead of a sensitive holiday period beginning this week.

Last month, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli settlers driving through Huwara. This was followed by a rampage by Israeli settlers who killed a Palestinian man and torched dozens of houses and cars.

Far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich also said that Huwara needed to be “wiped out”, in remarks that were widely condemned.

The West Bank has seen a surge of confrontations in recent months, with near-daily military raids and escalating settler violence.

Israeli settler-related violence targeting Palestinians has reached its highest levels since 2006, the United Nations told Al Jazeera.

A daily average of three violent incidents per day has been recorded in 2023, compared with two incidents per day in 2022, and one incident per day in 2021.

The meeting on Sunday is the second attempt by the sides, supported by regional allies Egypt and Jordan as well as the United States, to end a year-long eruption of violence that has seen more than 200 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire and more than 40 Israelis and three Ukrainians killed in Palestinian attacks.

Over the past year, Israeli forces have also made thousands of arrests in the West Bank.

The continuous deadly military raids have raised questions about the prospects of holding meetings between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which governs limited parts of the West Bank.

The previous meeting in Jordan late last month ended with an agreement to de-escalate tensions. It was quickly derailed by several new bursts of violence, including an Israeli raid in Nablus that killed 11 Palestinians, making expectations for the second installment low.

Sunday’s shooting further lowered those expectations. Still, mediators want to ease tensions ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to begin this week and which coincides next month with the Jewish holiday of Passover.

“Overall, Palestinians are disappointed. They say that the US wants to somehow contain potential escalation that could happen during the holy month of Ramadan specifically since we know that Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are planning an open hunger strike,” said Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim, reporting from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

“If you ask Palestinians on the street if they believe this summit is going to lead to anything, they would tell you that it would not yield any results,” she added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no mention of the summit in his weekly cabinet meeting.

But he reiterated on Sunday: “Anyone trying to harm the citizens of Israel will pay the price.”

Palestinian official Hussein al-Sheikh tweeted on Saturday that the meeting was meant to “demand an end to this continuous Israeli aggression against us”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies