Palestinian shot dead after six Israelis wounded in illegal settlement

Palestinian health ministry identifies suspect in shooting attack as Mohannad al-Mazraa, 20, from a nearby West Bank town.

Israeli security forces secure an area near an entrance of the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the occupied West Bank after an attack in February [File: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]

A Palestinian has been shot and killed by an off-duty Israeli police officer after he allegedly opened fire in an illegal Israeli settlement, wounding at least six people.

The shooting on Tuesday took place outside a shopping mall in the sprawling Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the suspect as 20-year-old Mohannad al-Mazraa from Azariya, a nearby West Bank town.

Reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, Al Jazeera’s Laura Khan said Israeli police reported that the gunman had opened fire in all directions, wounding several people, before he was shot and killed by Israeli forces.

Khan explained that Israeli settlements are a recurrent flashpoint for Israeli-Palestinian tensions and violence.

“These settlements are not only deemed illegal, but Palestinians consider them a form of colonisation that is encroaching upon Palestinian lands,” Khan said.

Maale Adumim
The illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the occupied West Bank [File: Menahem Kahana/AFP]

Hamas, the movement that has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007, praised the attack as “heroic” but stopped short of claiming responsibility.

Israel’s far-right national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, arrived at the site shortly after the shootings. Earlier on Tuesday, Ben-Gvir had led an incursion at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem along with dozens of other Israeli settlers.

Fighting between Israel and the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank intensified early last year when Israel launched near-nightly raids into Palestinian areas in the West Bank. Palestinian attacks against Israelis also intensified.

Palestinian and Israeli media reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant were following the security situation in the West Bank.

More than 200 Palestinians have been killed this year in the occupied Palestinian territories and Gaza. The majority of these fatalities have been recorded in the West Bank.

At least 26 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis during that time.

Those figures indicate that 2023 is already the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since the United Nations began keeping track of fatalities in 2005.

Previously, 2022 had been the deadliest year with 150 Palestinians killed, of whom 33 were minors, according to the UN. It was the sixth consecutive annual increase in the West Bank death toll and coincided with the start of near-daily raids on the area.

The rising number of fatalities last year prompted UN experts to condemn the treatment of Palestinians, including attacks on their homes and destruction of their property.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war along with the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies