As West Bank Shootings Rise, Israel’s Government Vows to Retaliate

As West Bank Shootings Rise, Israel’s Government Vows to Retaliate

Israel’s far-right government pledged on Tuesday to strike at Palestinian assailants, and those sending them to attack, amid what is being described as the bloodiest year in the occupied West Bank since the second Palestinian uprising about two decades ago.

In the last few days in the West Bank, an Israeli father and his adult son were shot at point-blank range as they waited for their car to be washed in a Palestinian town, and an Israeli preschool teacher was killed in a drive-by shooting in front of her 12-year-old daughter. Within that same time frame, an apparently unarmed Palestinian man was seen on video being shot from behind and a 17-year-old Palestinian boy was shot in the head during a military raid.

The government did not elaborate on its response plans, but it has been under increasing criticism for what is seen as a security failure by both its detractors and by leaders of the West Bank Jewish settler movement, who are represented by key partners in the coalition government.

So far this year, about 180 Palestinians have been killed, mostly in clashes with the Israeli military or while carrying out attacks against Israelis. Uninvolved bystanders have also been killed. About 33 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks also this year, more than 20 of them in or near settlements or on roads in the West Bank.

The second intifada, or the Palestinian uprising from 2000 to 2005, left a far greater toll, leaving about 3,000 Palestinians and more than 1,000 Israelis dead and deeply traumatizing both societies.

The most recent Palestinian victim, Uthman Abu Kharaj, 17, was shot in the head early Tuesday, according to the Palestinian health ministry, during an Israeli military incursion in the village of Zababdeh, near Jenin in the northern West Bank.

Describing its operations overnight Tuesday, the Israeli military said in a statement that its forces had apprehended 15 “wanted suspects” in overnight raids across the northern West Bank. In Zababdeh, it said, people hurled explosive devices at its forces, who responded with live fire and hit a person, whom the statement did not identify.

In a video of a separate episode in the West Bank, widely distributed on social networks and in the news media, a Palestinian man identified as Amid al-Ja’oub, 32, an electrician from the town of Beita, near Nablus, was seen on Monday running toward a group of Palestinians, according to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization. The group was trying to help another Palestinian, who had been shot by Israeli forces, according to B’Tselem.

B’Tselem said that Mr. al-Ja’oub, who was wearing a white T-shirt and was apparently unarmed, was then shot in the back of the neck. In the video, he is seen falling face-first to the ground.

The Palestinian health ministry said Mr. al-Ja’oub was critically wounded.

The Israeli police said in a statement that its forces were operating in Beita to apprehend a “wanted suspect” when a riot broke out. “Rioters hurled blocks and rocks at the forces, who subsequently responded with riot-dispersal means,” the police said, adding, “As the riot increased, so did the level of response by the security forces,” who used live fire and identified “hits.” The police said the details of the shooting were under review.

Also on Monday, Batsheva Nigri, 42, an Israeli preschool teacher who lived in a Jewish settlement near Hebron, in the southern West Bank, was fatally shot while riding in a car in the area with her daughter and the driver, a neighbor, who was wounded.

Israeli security forces arrested two Palestinians suspected of carrying out that attack in Hebron early Tuesday, according to Israeli officials.

On Saturday, an Israeli civilian, Shai Silas Nigreker, 60, and his son Aviad Nir, 28, from southern Israel, were fatally shot as they sat outside a carwash in Huwara, just south of Nablus. The pair had spent most of the day in the town before they were killed, visiting the dentist and a barbershop and getting their car fixed, according to Israeli news reports.

Palestinians in the northern West Bank accused the Israeli security forces of carrying out collective punishment by blocking roads with dirt barricades and setting up checkpoints as they searched for the perpetrator of the attack on the father and son.

The rising death tolls come as Israel’s nationalist government is pushing to expand Jewish settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and amid an atmosphere of increasing chaos and extremism.

Palestinian militias have sprung up in the northern West Bank, made up of gunmen who do not answer to the traditional Palestinian hierarchy or power centers. A sharp increase in attacks in recent months on Israelis from armed groups in the Jenin refugee camp, also in the northern West Bank, prompted Israel to mount its largest military operation there in years.

Adding to the tensions, extremist Israeli settlers, in what they have deemed acts of revenge for attacks on Israelis, have carried out arsonist rampages in Huwara and other Palestinian towns and villages that have left two Palestinians dead.

Israel’s far-right government is coming under increasing criticism from the ultranationalist settlers whose support it depends on.

Leaders of the West Bank regional settler councils protested outside the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem on Tuesday and demanded tougher action to rein in the violence.

Hiba Yazbek contributed reporting from Jerusalem.