Israeli forces kill Palestinian man in Hebron as tensions spiral

Naseem Abu Fouda, 26, is the 35th Palestinian to be killed by Israel so far in January 2023. The death toll includes eight children.

Israeli forces take up position during confrontations with Palestinians, in Hebron, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank
Israeli forces in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank [File: Mussa Qawasma/Reuters]

Ramallah, occupied West Bank – Israeli forces have shot dead a Palestinian man in the southern city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, the latest killing in a wave of escalating violence.

Identifying the deceased as 26-year-old Naseem Abu Fouda, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said he was shot in the head on Monday morning.

Local journalists reported Abu Fouda was hospitalised just after 2am (00:00 GMT).

The official Palestinian Authority (PA) news agency, Wafa, said Israeli forces “stationed at the military checkpoint 160, south of the Ibrahimi Mosque in the centre of Hebron, fired live bullets at the young man’s vehicle, wounding him with a bullet in the head, after which he was transferred to the Al-Ahly Hospital in the city” and that he was later pronounced dead.

Abu Fouda is the 35th Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces in January 2023. The death toll includes eight children.

The latest killing comes as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits the region.

Blinken is set to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday and PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Tuesday.

While the United Nations said 2022 was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since 2005, with at least 170 people killed, the number of Palestinians killed by Israel this month puts 2023 on track to exceed that figure.

On Thursday morning, the Israeli army, in a joint operation with police and intelligence, launched a large-scale raid on the Jenin refugee camp, killing 10 Palestinians, including two children and a woman, in what was described by Palestinians as a “massacre”.

The next day, a 21-year-old Palestinian man shot seven Israelis dead at an illegal settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.

Tensions on the ground continued to escalate over the weekend. Israeli forces have killed four Palestinians since the Jenin camp raid, and settlers have carried out dozens of attacks on Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, wounding people with live ammunition and carrying arson attacks on cars and properties.

On Saturday, Netanyahu said he would expedite gun permits for Israeli citizens, a move seen as “collective punishment” and one that could further increase the violence.

The new Israeli government, inaugurated last month, is the most right-wing in the country’s history and has sparked fears for Palestinians living under illegal Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and in Israel, as well as left-wing Israelis.

The new government includes National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, both of whom are outspoken about their intention to expand illegal settlements in the West Bank and the annexation of Palestinian land, and are notorious for inciting violence against Palestinians.

Both are settlers living deep inside the West Bank.

Source: Al Jazeera