Palestinian attackers shoot an Israeli guard in the West Bank 2022-04-29 20:18:45

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The Israeli army said that Palestinian attackers shot and killed a security guard at the entrance to a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank on Friday evening. The new offensive may inflame the Israeli-Palestinian tensions that have escalated in the past two months.

The Israeli military said early Saturday that the attackers reached the entrance to the Ariel settlement and shot the guard at his location before fleeing the scene. The army began pursuing the suspects in the West Bank.

In a separate incident, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said that Israeli forces shot dead a 27-year-old Palestinian during clashes in the village of Azzun near the town of Qalqilya at dawn on Saturday.

A series of Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank over the past two months have killed 15 Israelis. Israeli security forces have killed at least 27 Palestinians in recent weeks.

Hamas, the armed group that rules Gaza, praised the attack but stopped short of claiming responsibility.

“The operation proves that the revolution is raging throughout the West Bank,” said spokesman Hazem Qassem. “This is a practical application of our people’s declaration that Jerusalem is a red line.”

Tensions increased this month at a key holy site in Jerusalem, where Palestinian worshipers clashed daily with Israeli police. The site contains Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, and increasing numbers of Palestinians go to it to pray during the holy month of Ramadan.

Earlier on Friday, Palestinians threw stones and Israeli police fired rubber-coated bullets at the site, which has seen a wave of unrest in recent weeks.

Police say Palestinians inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound began throwing rocks and firecrackers near dawn in the direction of a heavily guarded gate leading to the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray. The police advanced to the compound and fired rubber-coated bullets.

The violence ended about an hour later, after other Palestinians entered the compound and persuaded stone-throwers and the police to withdraw.

The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said that more than 40 people were injured, of whom 22 needed treatment in local hospitals. She added that Israeli forces prevented paramedics from entering the compound during the clashes, and that one of the paramedics was beaten by the police. The Israeli police said they were not aware of the allegations that medical workers were being denied entry to the area, describing them as a “distorted” version of events. They also said that three people were arrested.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque complex was built on top of a hill considered the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount because it was the site of synagogues in ancient times. It has always been a hot spot in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In recent weeks, Israeli police and Palestinians have clashed there on a number of occasions. The Israeli authorities accuse Hamas of inciting violence and say that security forces had to intervene to stop the stone-throwing.

The Palestinians say the presence of the Israeli police at the site, and the regular visits by increasing numbers of nationalist and religious Jews, are a violation of the decades-old informal arrangements governing the site. Visits stopped last week in the last ten days of the blessed month of Ramadan, which ends at the end of this week.

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