NETANYAHU VOWS TO CONTINUE BUILDING JEWISH SETTLEMENTS ON PALESTINIAN LAND
RAMALLAH, December 19 – The Israeli army has shot dead two Palestinian men in separate raids in a town and a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, sources on both sides said.
One of the victims, a member of the Palestinian security forces, was killed during an overnight arrest raid early on Thursday in the northern town of Qalqilya.
“During an ambush organized to arrest an armed man… who had fired on Israeli soldiers several times in recent weeks, the man opened fire on soldiers, who fired back,” the Israeli army said.
“We later learnt that he had been killed.” Palestinian security sources identified the dead man as intelligence officer Saleh Yasin, 29. He was on his way home when he was ambushed by the Israeli soldiers, the sources said.
Another Palestinian was shot dead by the Israeli army, and several others wounded, in clashes that erupted after a similar arrest operation in Jenin refugee camp, also in the northern West Bank, on Wednesday evening, sources on both sides said. Palestinian security sources named the man killed in that exchange as Nafaa al-Saedi, 23, of the Islamic Jihad movement.
According to the director of the Palestinian emergency medical services in Jenin, clashes erupted after Israeli forces entered the refugee camp, and six casualties were taken to a Jenin hospital. He said another Palestinian, who was seriously wounded, was still being held by Israel.
Palestinian security sources told AFP news agency the soldiers had arrived to arrest Saedi and another Palestinian, 21-year-old Ali Qassem al-Saedi, who were at the home of a Hamas leader who had been arrested by Israel.
Following the incident “approximately 100 Palestinians violently attacked the security forces by hurling rocks”, the Israeli army said in its statement.
The deaths brought to 28 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces this year, the great majority of them in the West Bank, according to an AFP tally. On December 7, troops shot dead a 15-year-old Palestinian during a clash in Jalazoun refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue developing settlements amid warnings that peace negotiations with the Palestinians could break down.
“We will not stop, even for a moment, building our country and becoming stronger, and developing… the settlement enterprise,” he said in remarks on Wednesday to his rightwing Likud faction, which were broadcast on army radio on Thursday, AFP reported.
Under pressure from the US, the Israelis and Palestinians resumed negotiations last summer, agreeing to talk for nine months with the goal of a permanent peace agreement.
But recent months have seen an uptick in deadly violence in the West Bank, with the U.S. now setting its sights on a preliminary deal. Israel has released Palestinian prisoners as a sign of good faith, but since negotiations have begun it has announced plans to build some 5,992 new housing units. Further exacerbating tensions, Israeli soldiers reportedly killed two Palestinian men this week.–IINA