Palestinian gunman kills Israeli soldier in West Bank, shot

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A Palestinian gunman shot dead an Israeli soldier near a settlement in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, the army said, in an attack claimed by a Palestinian militant group.

Shilo Yosef Amir, 22, was the second Israeli soldier to be killed within a week as violence again surges in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He was killed during a “routine activity” near the settlement of Kedumim, the army said in a statement.

The assailant was later “neutralized” by Israeli forces, it said. Palestinian officials were not able to immediately confirm his condition.

In an earlier statement the army said the assailant had fled after the shooting.

The incident began when Israeli forces stopped a “suspicious vehicle for inspection”, the earlier statement said.

“During the inspection, an assailant inside the vehicle opened fire toward them. The forces responded with live fire and the assailant fled,” the statement said.

“The IDF (army) soldiers and civilian security personnel pursued the assailant… and neutralized him,” it added.

Palestinian sources said that Israeli forces later arrested the assailant’s brother and father at their village in the West Bank.

The killing of the Israeli soldier was claimed by Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that rules the costal enclave of Gaza.

“Al-Qassam Brigades announce their responsibility for the heroic operation that took place in Kedumim,” it said in a statement.

The statement called it a “swift response to the aggressions of the occupation and its aggression against our people in Jenin camp”.

Twelve Palestinians were killed this week when Israeli forces carried out a large-scale operation in the West Bank city of Jenin, their biggest assault in years.

The raid, during which an Israeli soldier was also killed, targeted the Jenin refugee camp — a centre of multiple Palestinian militant groups.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War and built many settlements, considered illegal under international law, in the area Palestinians regard as the core of the independent state they are seeking.

Excluding annexed east Jerusalem, the West Bank is home to about 490,000 Israelis living in settlements.

The Palestinians want Israel to withdraw from all land seized in 1967 and to dismantle all Jewish settlements.

The Israeli army, after several deadly attacks early last year inside Israel, launched daily raids in the West Bank.

The violence has further escalated since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government took over late last year. Clashes have mostly concentrated in the northern West Bank.

At least 190 Palestinians, 27 Israelis, one Ukrainian and one Italian have been killed this year, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources from both sides.

They include, on the Palestinian side, combatants and civilians, and on the Israeli side, mostly civilians and three members of the Arab minority.

©️ Agence France-Presse

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