Israeli army kills Palestinian, settlers march to illegal outpost

Settlers and politicians march towards Nablus to demand that the outpost be legalised while the Israeli army shoots a teen in Jericho.

An Israeli border police officer aims his weapon as another prepares to fire tear gas canisters towards Palestinian demonstrators protesting against Israeli settlements near Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, April 10, 2023
An Israeli border police officer aims his weapon as another prepares to fire tear gas canisters towards Palestinian demonstrators protesting against Israeli settlements near Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank [Raneen Sawafta/Reuters]

A Palestinian child has been killed by Israeli forces in the Aqabet Jaber refugee camp in Jericho, as a settler march to an illegal outpost near the occupied city of Nablus brought more violence to the West Bank.

Mohammad Fayez Balhan, who was 15 years old, was shot in the head, chest and stomach on Monday.

“They shot him in the head,” the teen’s aunt Maysoon said. “What is going to happen to our people? What will happen to us?”

The Israeli military said that it had been operating in Jericho’s Aqabat Jabr refugee camp in an attempt to apprehend Palestinians it suspected of attacks against Israelis, and that its forces had responded to being fired at by the suspects.

Settler march

The incident comes as the Israeli army guards thousands of Israeli settlers marching to the abandoned illegal outpost of Evyatar to call on the Israeli government to legalise the outpost and to “denounce the increased attacks on settlements in recent weeks”.

The mother of two Israeli sisters killed last week in one such attack died from her injuries, hospital officials said on Monday.

Thousands of settlers, led by ministers in Israel’s far-right government, have taken part in the march, heavily protected by Israeli forces who closed the march’s path to Palestinians, although confrontations were still reported, with at least two Palestinians injured by rubber-coated bullets, and dozens of others treated for inhaling tear gas.

Al Jazeera’s Samir Abu Shammala said that Palestinians tried to confront the march, which was held under a banner declaring that “all of the land of Israel” was the property of Jewish Israelis, with the settlers implying that that included the occupied West Bank.

Abu Shammala added that the Palestinians had burned tyes and threw stones, and that groups of settlers had begun to leave the site of the march demanding the legalisation of the outpost, which lasted for three hours.

“There is still a heavy deployment of Israeli soldiers, as it is estimated that about 1,000 Israeli soldiers were deployed to secure the settlers’ march, according to Israeli sources,” Abu Shammala said.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it considered the march “a dangerous escalation and provocation of the Palestinian people, and an extension of the incitement calls of the Israeli right and the fascist right to deepen settlement at the expense of Palestinian lands, and it has dangerous repercussions on the situation in the arena of conflict”.

The ministry added that it is studying with legal experts the best ways to confront the settlement process, including filing a complaint with the UN Security Council, Human Rights Council and Permanent Commission of Inquiry as well as the relevant international courts.

The march started from the Zaatara military checkpoint towards the evacuated Evyatar outpost on Jabal Sabih in the town of Bita, south of Nablus, in the north of the West Bank.

Last year, Israeli settlers established the illegal Evyatar settlement outpost on private Palestinian lands on Jabal Sabih. The Israeli authorities decided to evacuate it after months of Palestinian protests.

Meanwhile, tensions at Al-Aqsa Mosque continued for the fifth day in a row as a group of settlers stormed the courtyards of the compound early on Monday under the protection of Israeli forces. Previously, Israeli forces prevented Palestinian worshippers below the age of 50 from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform the dawn Fajr prayer.

The forces tightened their presence at the Al-Aqsa gates before opening them after the start of the prayer.

In light of the developments, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant decided to deploy security reinforcements in the Tel Aviv area starting Monday after the Israeli army conducted an assessment of the security situation there.

Source: Al Jazeera