Israeli soldiers kill unarmed Palestinian in West Bank

Tensions have recently heightened in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2019
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Israeli soldiers kill unarmed Palestinian in West Bank

  • Jordan’s king vows to keep protecting holy sites in Jerusalem, calling it ‘red line’ for his country
  • The official said Israeli troops in the adjacent village of Al-Khader fired at a car and wounded the driver the previous night

RAMALLAH, West Bank: The governor of the West Bank city of Bethlehem said on Thursday that Israeli soldiers shot and killed an unarmed Palestinian man who was trying to aid another near the city.

Gov. Kamel Hmeid said Israeli troops in the adjacent village of Al-Khader fired at a car and wounded the driver late on Wednesday night. 

He said Ahmad Manasra was in the car behind and got out of his vehicle to help the wounded man, who was shot in the abdomen. As Manasra was returning to his car, the Israeli soldiers shot and killed him, he said.

“This is a summary execution and Israel bears the full responsivity for this crime,” Hmeid said.

The Israeli military said a soldier stationed at a military post near Bethlehem identified rocks being thrown at Israeli vehicles and in response fired his weapon. The military said it was investigating the incident, which comes amid heightened tensions in the West Bank.

Wabeb Manasrah, a cousin of the slain Palestinian, confirmed the governor’s account. 

He said they were trying to help the wounded man and that his cousin was going to drive his wife and children away when he was gunned down.

“There were no clashes, no stone throwing, nothing at all,” he said. “I don’t know why they shot him.”

On Wednesday, the Israeli military said it shot and killed two Palestinians who had attacked troops in the West Bank city of Nablus. 

This followed the killing of a Palestinian suspected of carrying out a weekend stabbing and shooting attack that left two Israelis dead near a West Bank settlement. 

The military said 19-year-old Omar Abu Leila was fatally shot when he opened fire on soldiers trying to arrest him after an intensive two-day manhunt.

Election campaign

The uptick in West Bank violence comes as Israel is currently in the midst of an election campaign and Egypt is trying to broker a long-term truce between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Since 2015, Palestinians have killed over 50 Israelis in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks in the West Bank. Israeli forces have killed more than 260 Palestinians in that same period. 

Amid fresh Israeli violence, Jordan’s King Abdullah II vowed to keep protecting Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, calling it a “red line” for his country.

King Abdullah said, during a visit to the Zarqa governorate outside Amman, that he was under pressure to alter his country’s historic role as custodian of the Jerusalem holy sites but that he would not.

Abdullah said: “I will never change my position toward Jerusalem in my life.” He added that “all my people are with me.”

He did not specify what kind of pressure he was encountering.

A Jordanian-appointed council oversees Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.

It claims exclusive authority over the Noble Sanctuary, or Temple Mount, compound and says it is not subject to Israeli jurisdiction. Tensions often escalate at the site.


Lebanon arrests Captagon drug kingpin

Updated 58 sec ago
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Lebanon arrests Captagon drug kingpin

  • Captagon is an amphetamine manufactured in Lebanon and probably also in Syria and Iraq

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s police on Wednesday said they arrested a “prominent” drug trafficking baron suspected of smuggling large shipments of the amphetamine-like drug Captagon to at least six countries.

The 31-year-old suspect “had been professionally smuggling Captagon to Arab countries for around six years,” the Internal Security Forces said, without naming the man.

He confessed to carrying out “12 smuggling operations to Egypt, Qatar, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Saudi Arabia,” it said in a statement.

He was “one of the most prominent of those involved” in smuggling Captagon from Lebanon to the Gulf, the statement said.

He was arrested in the Bekaa Valley in a bust coordinated with Saudi Arabia’s Directorate of Narcotics Control, it said.

Four other members of the same smuggling network — two Lebanese and two Syrians — were also arrested, according to the statement.

Captagon is an amphetamine manufactured in Lebanon and probably also in Syria and Iraq, according to the French Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT).

It is also one of the most commonly used drugs in the Syrian war, where fighters say it helps them stay awake for days and numbs their senses, giving them stamina for long battles and allowing them to kill with abandon.

Lebanon has previously stopped several shipments of the drug to Gulf countries.

In May, it arrested a Saudi man at Beirut airport carrying about 10 kilo of the drug.

In April, it seized more than 800,000 pills worth around $12 million in a bust coordinated with Saudi authorities.

In one of the country’s largest busts, Lebanon arrested a Saudi prince and four other Saudi nationals in October 2015 for attempting to smuggle out nearly 2 tons of captagon via Beirut’s airport.