Tensions flare after Israeli forces kill Palestinian at West Bank checkpoint

Israeli military forces shot and killed a Palestinian man Sunday as he approached a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Nablus holding a bottle.

Abed Omar Qusini/Reuters
Palestinian women mourn during the funeral of Ahmed Muslamani in the West Bank town of Tubas, north of Nablus, Sunday. Israeli troops on Sunday shot and killed a Palestinian who approached them at a West Bank checkpoint holding a bottle, the Israeli military and Palestinian officials said.

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Israeli military forces shot and killed a Palestinian man Sunday as he approached a checkpoint in Nablus holding a bottle. The shooting came less than 48 hours after a Palestinian woman died after inhaling a large quantity of tear gas at a demonstration in the West Bank.

While violence is not unusual in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, the two deaths have drawn much attention coming at a period of relative quiet. Palestinian officials have said the incidents severely damaged the peace process.

“The Israeli escalation in the last two days is aimed at demolishing any hope of a peace process, and we ask the US administration and the international community to take necessary steps to stop the dangerous escalation against the area,” said Nabil Abu Rudeina, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas’ spokesman, in an article by Agence France-Presse.

Israeli authorities allege that Mohammed Daraghmeh entered an unauthorized lane of the checkpoint at Nablus holding a bottle. While initial media reports say that he tried to stab a soldier, Israeli military officials say that they did not find a knife on Mr. Daraghmeh and they have not confirmed that his bottle was broken.

An Israeli military spokesperson says that Daraghmeh ignored orders to stop and that soldiers felt threatened and fired, reports the Voice of America. The incident came hours after a Palestinian man armed with a knife tried to stab two female Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem.

“Once again the army is covering up the actions of its men, instead of apologizing and conducting a serious inquiry,” said Michael Sfard in an article by the BBC. Mr. Sfard is the attorney for Jawaher Abu Rahmeh, the woman killed by tear gas inhalation.

A number of human rights activists are calling for an investigation into the two incidents, but Israel has traditionally resisted external investigations of its military conduct.

The Israeli military says it is investigating the death of Ms. Rahmeh, reports the UK’s Press Association. The military has described the protest where Rahmeh was gassed on Friday as a “violent and illegal riot.” It released photograph of demonstrators with slingshots and throwing firebombs at troops during the protest.

The most recent shooting is likely to fuel pro-Palestinian groups anger against Israel which has been mounting since the death of Ms. Abu Rahmeh.

On Sunday, Israeli police arrested 11 activists outside the home of US Ambassador James Cunningham north of Tel Aviv, reports the Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

The protest in which Rahmeh was killed takes place every Friday at the West Bank village of Bilin where the containment wall built by the Israelis has been a strong point of contention. The regular protests involve Palestinians, left-leaning Israelis, and internationals.

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