April 18, 2024

MOON Desk: Israeli troops killed a Palestinian driver in the occupied West Bank Monday, officials on both sides said, with the army saying the car had hit a soldier’s leg before speeding off.

Nassim Naif Salman Abu Fouda, 26, died from “a bullet wound to the head fired by the occupation (Israeli) soldiers in Hebron this morning,” the Palestinian health ministry said.

The Israeli army said that soldiers had “identified a suspicious vehicle” and “asked the driver to stop the vehicle in order to inspect it.”

“A soldier approached the vehicle and the driver rammed into his leg,” it added.

Troops then “fired toward the vehicle as it attempted to flee the scene and hits were identified,” the army statement said. “The vehicle continued driving and then crashed.”

An eyewitness told AFP that “four or five soldiers surrounded him (Abu Fouda) when he was in his car, front and behind.”

“They started shooting at him, then he was hit,” added the witness, Hazem Abu Sneineh.

The army said the driver was taken from the car by Palestinian medics and “was later declared dead.”

Abu Fouda’s body was wrapped in a green Islamic prayer rug as it was carried from a mosque in central Hebron for burial, surrounded by hundreds of mourners.

He is the 35th Palestinian killed in the conflict this month, in the West Bank and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem — including militants, civilians and several children — according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both sides.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967.

The funeral in Hebron was held just before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Israel for a visit that will also include talks with the Palestinian leadership, amid one of the conflict’s deadliest phases in years.

Israel is reeling after a Palestinian killed six Israelis including a child and one Ukrainian citizen in a shooting on Friday outside a synagogue in east Jerusalem.

The attack came a day after Israeli forces killed 10 Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp, in a raid the army claimed targeted operatives from Islamic Jihad.

On Sunday, CIA Director Williams Burns held talks in the West Bank with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to discuss the “dangerous developments,” the official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

The US embassy declined to comment to AFP on CIA chief’s meeting.

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