Schools shut as troops hunt for West Bank shooting suspect

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Schools were shut Sunday in the occupied West Bank town of Huwara as troops searched for the suspected killer of an Israeli father and his son who were shot dead over the weekend.

The two Israeli men were gunned down Saturday at a car wash in Huwara, in the latest attack to rock the territory where violence has surged this year.

Israeli media identified the two as Shay Silas Nigrekar, 60, and Aviad Nir, 28.

Nablus’s acting governor Ghassan Daghlas ordered the closure of Huwara’s schools “after requests from parents who are afraid of reactions from settlers”, he told AFP.

Huwara, a Palestinian town near the city of Nablus, has seen a number of attacks on Jewish settlers or the Israeli military since early last year.

Settlers have also responded with revenge attacks on the town and surrounding villages.

“Whenever an attack occurs that negatively affects the residents of Huwara… settlers break in, hurl rocks and smash cars,” local resident Ashraf Odeh told AFP.

“The army can do nothing for you because its priority is to protect the settlers before it protects us.”

On Sunday, Israeli forces also blocked access to the nearby villages of Beita and Aqraba as their manhunt continued, an AFP correspondent reported from the area.

“Our security forces are currently looking for the murderer… this terrorist’s day will also come and sooner than he thinks,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting on Sunday.

It was not the first time that Nigrekar had visited Huwara, his relatives said.

“Apparently, he knew the car mechanics there,” his relative Yitzhak Nigrekar told Army Radio.

“He was going often to Huwara. He had friends there and I too had gone with him sometimes,” Rina, a long-time companion of the victim, told Israel’s Kan television channel.

  • Rising violence-

In a separate incident on Sunday, an Israeli civilian was injured in the West Bank when troops fired at a group of “masked suspects” who turned out to be Israeli citizens.

The incident happened near the Israeli settlement of Maale Levona, not far from Nablus.

The army said a number of “masked suspects” were seen in the area of Maale Levona at around 03:00 am on Sunday.

“The soldiers opened fire according to standard operating procedures, during which one of the suspects was injured,” the army said.

“It was later revealed that the suspects are Israeli citizens who were masked.”

The army did not provide further details and said the incident was under investigation.

The West Bank has seen a surge in violence since early last year, with a string of attacks by Palestinians on Israeli targets, repeated Israeli army raids and violence by Jewish settlers against Palestinian communities.

At least 218 Palestinians have been killed in violence linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this year.

Some 30 Israelis, one Ukrainian and one Italian have also been killed, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources on both sides.

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

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967.

Excluding annexed east Jerusalem, the territory is home to nearly three million Palestinians and around 490,000 Israelis who live in settlements considered illegal under international law.

©️ Agence France-Presse

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