JERUSALEM: Two Palestinians were shot and killed in separate incidents on Thursday in the West Bank as Israel announced plans to build a new fence near the flashpoint city of Hebron in an effort to contain a two-month spate of violence.
In the first incident, the Israeli military said “a violent riot erupted” when troops raided the village of Qattana overnight to search for ammunition and arrest suspected assailants. The Palestinians hurled firebombs and stones at troops, according to the army.
Troops shot 21-year-old Yehya Taha in the head, according to Palestinian health ministry spokesman Mohammed Awawdeh, and the youth later died of his wounds in a Ramallah hospital.
Later on Thursday, Israeli border guards shot and killed a Palestinian attacker wielding a knife near the West Bank city of Nablus. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the man got out of a taxi near a military post and began running toward officers, brandishing a knife. No Israelis were hurt in that attack, Samri added.
The Palestinian health ministry identified the assailant as 51-year-old Samir Seresi. The two deaths were the latest in a two-month wave of violence. Since mid-September, 19 Israelis have died in Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings and shootings. At least 93 Palestinians have also died, including 58 said by Israel to be attackers. The others died in clashes with Israeli forces.
In an effort to quell the violence, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon announced on Wednesday that Israel will build a fortified fence near Hebron, a southern West Bank city that has been a flashpoint in the current unrest.
He said the fence would fill in a gap in the barrier Israel began building in the early 2000s in response to Palestinian attacks. Yaalon told lawmakers that construction of the fence will take a year.
The fence will have similar technology as the recently constructed Israeli fence on the Egyptian frontier meant to deter infiltration of militants or migrants seeking asylum. Egypt is currently struggling to put down an Islamic insurgency in the volatile north of its Sinai Peninsula, which borders Israel.
Also Thursday, Israeli troops seized eight public transportation buses in the West Bank city of Nablus, according to drivers at the Al-Tamimi company. The military said the buses were intended to ferry Palestinians to checkpoints for demonstrations. Most Palestinian clashes with Israeli troops occur at checkpoints spread throughout the West Bank.
Despite heightened security, according to a senior military officer, the army has proposed easing restrictions on Palestinians and providing ammunition to Palestinian security forces to avert attacks.
Government officials, however, have rejected the idea, an Israeli official said. Both the officer and the official spoke on condition of anonymity because the offer has not been made public.Israel says the unrest stems from incitement by Palestinians.
The Palestinians say it’s rooted in frustrations over Israel’s nearly half a century-long occupation. Palestinians accuse Israel of using excessive force in suppressing violence.