Middle East

Israeli-Palestinian violence flares up

There has been a flare-up in violence between Israel and the Palestinians, just days after US President Donald Trump unveiled his peace plan.

Two Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank, medics say.

And in Jerusalem, 12 Israeli soldiers have been hurt in what the army says was a Palestinian car-ramming attack.

An Israeli police officer has also been lightly wounded in a shooting attack in the city, according to police.

Meanwhile, there have been further Israeli air strikes on militant sites in Gaza Strip after militants fired mortars into Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was “only a matter of time” before the perpetrator of the car-ramming attack was caught, adding: “Terror will not overwhelm us, we will win!”

The Palestinian militant group Hamas said: “The spreading resistance and clashes by our people in the West Bank and their resistance in the heart of occupied Jerusalem is an active response against the destructive Trump deal.”

Palestinians immediately rejected the US president’s proposals, which would leave them with a truncated territory surrounded by Israel and threaded through with Jewish settlements. Mr Netanyahu welcomed them and vowed to begin annexing parts of the West Bank after March’s general election.

The car-ramming attack took place at shortly before 02:00 (00:00 GMT) on Thursday near Jerusalem’s First Station entertainment venue.

The Israeli military said a Palestinian drove his car into the soldiers – who were on a “heritage tour” ahead of a ceremony at the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites – as they walked down the pavement.

One of the soldiers was seriously hurt while the others were lightly injured.

The driver fled the scene and the car was later found abandoned near Beit Jala, a suburb of Bethlehem, where troops were “currently pursuing the terrorist”, the Israeli military added.

Hours later, a man opened fire at several Israeli police officers stationed near Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, injuring one of them, a police spokesperson said.

“Other officers responded quickly, firing at the assailant and neutralising him,” the spokesperson added.

Palestinian medics, meanwhile, said a 19-year-old Palestinian, Yazan Abu Tabikh, was killed overnight by Israeli fire during clashes in the northern West Bank town of Jenin. Seven other Palestinians were injured.

The Israeli military said troops had “identified a number of armed terrorists who hurled explosive devices and fired towards them”. “The forces responded with riot dispersal means,” it added.

The clashes broke out as troops demolished the home of a Palestinian who was accused of being involved in the killing of a rabbi in 2018.

Abu Tabikh’s uncle told Reuters news agency: “Young men went out to the streets, the same way they do with every demolition that takes place. Clashes started and the Israelis started to shoot.”

On Wednesday a 17-year-old Palestinian, Mohammed al-Haddad, was shot and killed by Israeli forces in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

The Israeli military said that there had been a “violent riot”, during which “troops identified a Palestinian who hurled a Molotov cocktail at them”.

“The troops responded with fire in order to remove the threat,” it added.

Witnesses told AFP news agency that about 15 protesters had thrown stones at the troops.

Israeli warplanes also struck a number of Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip early on Thursday, including an underground complex and a maintenance facility, after mortars and balloons loaded with explosives were launched towards Israel, the Israeli military said.

There were no immediate reports of any casualties.

On Wednesday, the military said 13 rockets had been fired from Gaza in a week.

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