Deadly spike in Israeli and Palestinian violence as unrest flares

Deadly spike in Israeli-Palestinian violence on Thursday killed three Arabs and wounded a dozen Israeli troops in a rash of attacks and clashes a week after  the Trump administration released its long-anticipated Middle East plan.

In the West Bank, Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians, one during violent clashes, according to Israeli authorities. The shootings came hours after a car-ramming in Jerusalem targeted Israeli soldiers and a gunman wounded a policeman in suspected Palestinian attacks.

Long-simmering Palestinian unrest has been stoked by anger at US President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, which was embraced by Israel and rejected by the Palestinians when it was announced last week.

The plan would give Israel most of what it has sought during decades of conflict, including the disputed holy city of Jerusalem and nearly all the occupied land on which it has built settlements.

At the entrance to Jerusalem’s walled Old City, a gunman shot at a border policeman, lightly wounding him, Israeli police said. Police opened fire on the assailant and killed him.

The shooting took place not far from a popular nightlife venue where a few hours earlier, a car rammed into Israeli soldiers who were sight-seeing after basic training.

One soldier was badly injured and another sustained moderate injuries, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said. Twelve others were lightly injured.

Police said they were treating the car-ramming incident, which took place near the Palestinian neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem, as a terrorist attack. The driver was still at large, police said.

“It is just a matter of time – and not much time – until we get our hands on the attacker. Terrorism will not defeat us, we will win,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

Israeli troops kill 19-year-old in Jenin

In the West Bank city of Jenin, a 19-year-old man was shot dead by troops while throwing rocks at them, Palestinians said.

Jenin governor Akram Rajoub said the 19-year-old casualty was a student at an academy that trains budding police officers, and was throwing stones at the troops.

An Israeli military spokesman said soldiers came to Jenin to demolish the home of a Palestinian who was involved in the 2018 killing of a Jewish settler. Troops opened fire at Palestinians who shot and threw bombs at them in Jenin, the spokesman said.

Palestinian authorities said another Palestinian man, a police officer, had been killed at a Jenin police station by Israeli gunfire.

Israeli officials did not comment and it was unclear whether that incident was directly linked to the clashes in the West Bank city.

Stone-throwing Palestinian teen killed

On Wednesday, Israeli troops shot dead a 17-year-old Palestinian elsewhere in the West Bank, saying he had thrown a fire-bomb at them during a violent protest against Trump’s plan. He was the first fatality since the plan was announced.

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.

In clashes following the killing, a Palestinian security official was shot by Israeli troops and later died of his injuries.

Also Thursday, Israel struck Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip after three mortar shells were fired at Israel. There was no immediate report of injuries on either side.

‘Deal of century’ brings no peace

Unveiled last week at the White House with much fanfare, Trump’s plan envisions a disjointed Palestinian state that turns over key parts of the West Bank to Israel. It sides with Israel on key contentious issues that have bedeviled past peace efforts, including borders and the status of Jerusalem and Jewish West Bank settlements, and attaches nearly impossible conditions for granting the Palestinians their hoped-for state.

The plan was greeted ecstatically in Israel, with Netanyahu vowing to speed ahead with annexing parts of the West Bank. But under pressure from the US administration he appears to be scaling back on that promise.

The Palestinians dismissed the plan as “nonsense” and have promised to resist it. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Israel for the deaths, linking them to what Trump has billed as the “deal of the century”.

The Palestinians, as well as much of the international community, view the settlements in the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem – territories seized by Israel in the 1967 war – as illegal and a major obstacle to peace.

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