RAMALLAH: Israeli settlers have reportedly intensified attacks on Palestinian civilians and properties throughout the West Bank in the run-up to Tuesday’s general election in Israel.
Sources said shots had been fired at the homes of Palestinians while others were pepper sprayed in an escalation of violence after an Israeli security officer was killed and three people wounded in a shooting incident on Saturday near to an Israeli army checkpoint in Wadi Al-Gross, close to the settlement of Kiryat Arba.
The Israeli army said that its forces were carrying out a search for the assailants. Israeli sources alleged that Mohammed Kamel Al-Jabari, 35, from the southern West Bank city of Hebron, had opened fire on a group of settlers in Kiryat Arba. He was later killed in an exchange of fire with Israelis.
Following the shooting, the Israeli army closed entrances to Hebron and dozens of settlers attacked Palestinian vehicles and blocked access to Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron.
On Saturday night, groups of settlers were reported to have shot at Palestinian properties between the Wadi Al-Hussein and Jaber neighbourhoods.
In a recording, activist Manal Dana said: “The settlers are shooting toward the houses, and I am afraid for my children. The settlers are standing under my house.
Palestinian sources in Hebron said armed settlers, protected by the Israeli army, sprayed civilians with pepper gas in the Al-Sahla neighborhood near the Ibrahimi Mosque.
The Fatah movement in the central Hebron region announced a strike on Sunday in mourning for Al-Jabari.
Hisham Sharbati, a human rights activist from Hebron, told Arab News that on Saturday night settlers had closed all intersections of Hebron and that the Israeli army had kept them shut for part of Sunday morning.
In a statement, Fatah said: “Our struggle is continuing, and the convoys of martyrs are advancing the national situation in defense of our land.”
The organization pointed out the need to protect “our honor and our sanctities in response to the fierce and systematic attack led by occupation authorities against our people in all the governorates of the country.
“We ask you to adhere to the strike in honor of all the martyrs, the wounded and the prisoners, and our hero martyr Mohammed Kamel Al-Jabari.”
Several people were said to have been injured on Saturday evening after being attacked by settlers in Al-Sahla.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that its ambulance crew came under fire from Israeli troops and that a paramedic suffered a bullet wound to his shoulder. He was transferred to Al-Ahly Hospital.
Falah Issam Kahla, from Ramon, was hospitalized after being attacked east of Ramallah on Saturday evening, dozens of settlers reportedly gathered on Jericho Road, near Ramallah, and threw stones at Palestinian cars, and vehicles were similarly damaged on the outskirts of Hawara town, south of Nablus.
In other incidents, Palestinian vehicles were targeted near to the villages of Ras Karkar and Deir Ammar, west of Ramallah, while groups of settlers gathered near the Beit El and Halamish settlements northwest of Ramallah.