A Palestinian teenager died on Monday after he was shot by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Jenin the previous day, making him the fourth Palestinian to be killed by Israeli soldiers in two days.
Mohammed Zakarneh, 17, was shot on Sunday as Israeli troops were targeting relatives of Raad Hazem, the 28-year-old man from Jenin who on Thursday killed three Israelis at a bar in Tel Aviv before he was shot dead following a large manhunt.
The Israeli army said it had demanded that the father of Hazem hand himself in, ahead of the planned demolition of the family home, a punitive measure that human rights groups like B’Tselem say is tantamount to collective punishment.
The army said it engaged in an exchange of gunfire involving the assailant’s family members, and its troops had returned fire after they were shot at from a motorcycle during the incident. According to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, the teenager was unarmed and was shot as he returned home to break his fast after work.
On Monday, Israeli forces launched a third day of operations around Jenin following heavy gun battles in recent days and 20 arrests overnight, the army said.
At least 14 people have been killed in Israel in a spree of attacks by Palestinian assailants over the past three weeks. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said the Jewish state was now “on the offensive”. Since March 22, at least 14 Palestinians have been killed, including assailants, according to a count by the news agency AFP.
Four Palestinians, including Zakarneh, were killed in separate incidents across the occupied territory on Sunday and Monday.
The cities of Jenin and Bethlehem declared general strikes, with stores shutting down for much of the day. Two of those killed were from the Bethlehem area, one of whom the army said was shot dead after hurling a Molotov cocktail at its troops.
The Israeli military said it opened fire at a man – 21-year-old Muhammad Ali Ahmed Ghoneim – who was throwing a firebomb at an Israeli vehicle driving on a West Bank highway late Sunday. The other was an unarmed woman who was shot and killed at a military checkpoint near Bethlehem.
The European Union’s diplomatic mission to the Palestinian territory accused Israel of using unacceptable excessive force in fatally shooting the unarmed woman.
“This incident must be swiftly investigated and the perpetrators be brought to justice,” it wrote on Twitter.
Another woman was killed in Hebron; the Israeli army said she had stabbed and lightly wounded a policeman before being shot dead.
In Jenin on Monday, thousands of mourners flooded the streets for the funerals of those killed, many carrying Palestinian flags or rifles.
Tensions have surged during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, nearly a year after violence flared in the Gaza Strip, leading to 11 days of bombardment of the besieged strip.
Separately, Israel plans to build a 40-kilometre barrier to the northern part of the West Bank from the Salem area in the northern West Bank to the Bat Hefer region in the coming weeks. It is to replace a fence built 20 years ago during the second Palestinian uprising that now has large holes in it, according to media reports.
The security cabinet approved a sum equivalent to about $111m, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said on Sunday. The wall will be up to 9 metres (30 feet) high and will have security technology, according to the Israeli defence ministry.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA