Israeli injured in West Bank shooting


On Sunday, a shooting incident occurred in Huwara, a town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank that has been the site of recent Israeli military raids and settler violence. According to Israel’s ambulance and rescue service, a 30-year-old man was wounded when the vehicle he was travelling in came under fire. The Israeli military received a report of the shooting and stated that “soldiers and one of the injured civilians responded with live fire toward the terrorist and hit him”. The Palestinian gunman was wounded and later arrested by Israeli forces. Neither Hamas nor Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, but both released statements describing it as a “normal response to the crimes of the occupation”. The shooting took place as Israeli and Palestinian officials held talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, aimed at restoring calm after a surge in deadly violence in the West Bank.

Last month, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli settlers driving through Huwara. This was followed by a rampage by Israeli settlers who killed a Palestinian man and torched dozens of houses and cars. Far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich also made remarks that were widely condemned, stating that Huwara needed to be “wiped out”. The West Bank has seen a surge of confrontations in recent months, with near-daily military raids and escalating settler violence. The United Nations has reported that Israeli settler-related violence targeting Palestinians has reached its highest levels since 2006, with a daily average of three violent incidents per day recorded in 2023.

The meeting on Sunday was the second attempt by Israeli and Palestinian officials, supported by regional allies Egypt and Jordan as well as the United States, to end a year-long eruption of violence that has seen more than 200 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire and more than 40 Israelis and three Ukrainians killed in Palestinian attacks. Over the past year, Israeli forces have also made thousands of arrests in the West Bank. The continuous deadly military raids have raised questions about the prospects of holding meetings between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which governs limited parts of the West Bank.

The previous meeting in Jordan late last month ended with an agreement to de-escalate tensions, but it was quickly derailed by several new bursts of violence, including an Israeli raid in Nablus that killed 11 Palestinians. Expectations for the second installment were low, and Sunday’s shooting further lowered those expectations. Still, mediators want to ease tensions ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to begin this week and coincides next month with the Jewish holiday of Passover.

“Overall, Palestinians are disappointed. They say that the US wants to somehow contain potential escalation that could happen during the holy month of Ramadan specifically since we know that Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are planning an open hunger strike,” said Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim, reporting from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. “If you ask Palestinians on the street if they believe this summit is going to lead to anything, they would tell you that it would not yield any results,” she added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no mention of the summit in his weekly cabinet meeting but reiterated on Sunday: “Anyone trying to harm the citizens of Israel will pay the price.” Palestinian official Hussein al-Sheikh tweeted on Saturday that the meeting was meant to “demand an end to this continuous Israeli aggression against us”.