Israeli troops yesterday shot and killed an unarmed Palestinian woman in the occupied West Bank and Palestinians set fire to a shrine revered by Jews, Israeli and Palestinian officials said. It was the latest episode of violence during the holy month of Ramadan.
Tension has been escalating as Ramadan this year converges with major Jewish and Christian holidays. Protests during Ramadan last year led to an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza militants.
The Israeli army said it fired at the woman’s lower body after she approached a military checkpoint near Bethlehem and ignored calls to stop and warning shots fired into the air. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the woman, who was 47, later died from her injuries in a hospital.
Palestinian assailants often carry out attacks at checkpoints in the West Bank.
But Palestinians and human rights groups say the army often uses excessive force and in some cases has injured or killed people not involved in violence. The Israeli army confirmed the woman was found to be unarmed and said the killing was being investigated.
Earlier, Brigadier General Ran Kochav, the chief military spokesman, told Israeli Army Radio that some 100 Palestinians marched toward Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus late on Saturday and set it ablaze before they were dispersed by Palestinian security forces.
Joseph’s Tomb is a flashpoint prayer site. Some Jews believe the biblical Joseph is buried in the tomb, while Muslims say a sheikh is buried there.
The incidents come as Israeli forces continued to operate in the north West Bank city of Jenin and surrounding area, home to two Palestinians suspected of deadly attacks on Israelis in recent weeks.
Jenin is considered a stronghold of Palestinian militants.
Late on Saturday, Israel announced it was tightening curbs on movement in and out of the city, though it continued to allow labourers enter Israel.
A raid on the hometown of one of the suspected assailants on Saturday sparked a gunbattle that left at least one Palestinian militant dead. Jenin governor Akram Rajoub denounced ongoing Israeli activity and called the measures “collective punishment”.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told his Cabinet: “We will be at every place at any time as needed to cut off these terror attacks. Israel is going on the offensive.”
Four attacks by Palestinians in recent weeks have killed 14 people in one of the deadliest bursts of violence against Israelis in years.