July 20, 2024

A member of the Israeli security forces and a Palestinian demonstrator waving a batton, face each other during confrontations in the center of the occupied-West Bank city of Hebron, on Friday. (AFP)

Moon Desk: Two Palestinians were killed and a third was wounded by Israeli army fire in the occupied West Bank early on Friday.

Health officials said Imad Abu Rashid, 47, and Ramzi Sami Zabara, 35, were officers in the Palestinian civil defense.

The Israeli military said troops at an army post south of Nablus responded after they were fired on. They identified two suspicious vehicles, returned fire, and reported “hits.”

The shooting happened a day after the Israeli army announced the easing of a blockade around Nablus, following the surrender of five members of the Lions’ Den militia group to Palestinian security services.

Retired Maj. Gen. Adnan Damiri, a former spokesman for the Palestinian security services, claimed to Arab News that the current Israeli government led by Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz were capitalizing on violence to boost their hopes of reelection.

“The Israeli leaders are ready to violate all international laws, but they are not ready for any possibility of losing the elections,” Damiri said, adding that after winning, “they have no problem apologizing for what they did.”

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh described Friday’s killings as a heinous crime, adding that Abu Rashid and Zubarah were among the best civil defense officers and pioneers of community work in Askar camp.

He held the Israeli government responsible and called on the international community to protect Palestinians.

Since the beginning of this year, the Israeli army has killed 133 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said Friday’s killings were part of Israeli military doctrine that grants its soldiers a license to kill defenseless Palestinians and then gives them immunity.

It called on the International Criminal Court to investigate and said that not holding Israel to account for “crimes against our people encourages it to commit more crimes.”

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said increasing resistance to Israeli aggression showed Palestinian determination “to continue the confrontation until freedom and victory is achieved.”

Hamas called on “all members of the Palestinian security services and all those who bear arms to follow the trail of the two heroic martyrs in defense of the Palestinian people, and direct bullets toward the Zionist enemy.”

The Palestinian presidency accused Israel of “exploding the situation by continuing its policy of killing our people.

“We hold the Israeli occupation government responsible for this continuation of crimes against our people,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a presidential spokesman. “It must immediately stop exploiting Palestinian blood in its internal political wrangling.”

He called on the US to stop Israel’s escalation before it plunges the region into a new cycle of violence.

Also on Friday, the Israeli army arrested four young men from the village of Umm Safa, northwest of Ramallah, on charges of throwing stones at vehicles from a nearby illegal settlement.

The doors of the homes of the four men were broken down at dawn. Two of them had been jailed for a year by Israel and released only four months ago.

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