A knife-wielding Palestinian hurt two guards on Thursday near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank and was shot dead, the army said.
“The critically injured gunshot victim has died of his injury”, Jerusalem’s Shaarei Tzedek hospital said in a statement later. The arson also touched on Palestinian fears of extremist Jewish West Bank settlers who have attacked Palestinian property with impunity.
The four incidents occurred as revelers were gathering in the West Bank city of Bethlehem for Christmas celebrations, festivities that were dampened by the latest string of violence. Israeli forces or armed civilians have killed at least 123 Palestinians, 75 of whom authorities described as assailants, while others died in clashes with security forces.
On Wednesday at the main tourist entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City, an Israeli was stabbed to death and another killed, seemingly by a stray police bullet as officers shot dead the two Palestinian assailants.
Thursday’s killings come on the heels of months of escalated violence in Israel, the occupied West Bank – including East Jerusalem – and the Gaza Strip. Near-daily Palestinian assaults have killed 20 Israelis & an American student.
One Palestinian witness, Suhail Hamed, 39, said the police opened fire when the vehicle was 150 metres (yards) away from them.
A wave of violence which began nearly three months ago has shown no sign of dying down and has raised fears of a wider escalation, a decade after the last Palestinian uprising subsided.
Earlier in the day, the 22-year-old Muhammad Zahran was shot dead by security guards at the Israeli settlement of Ariel while allegedly trying to stab them.
But the protracted and drawn-out investigation has raised questions as to why the process is taking so long when authorities often swiftly arrest and prosecute Palestinians suspected in attacks on Israelis.
Israel’s Channel 10 news obtained cellphone video that was taken at the wedding, in which extremist Israelis passed around army-issued automatic weapons and let children also dance with the guns. Prime Minister Netanyahu slammed its contents, saying, “The shocking images broadcast tonight show the true face of a group that constitutes a threat to Israeli society and Israel’s security”.
Reporting on the suspects’ identity is subject to a court gag order in Israel; however, the U.S. Jewish newspaper the Forward reported that one of the suspects holds both U.S. and Israeli citizenship.