By JOSEPH KRAUSS
JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian teenager died Thursday after being shot by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank during a protest against a settlement outpost, the fourth demonstrator to be killed since the outpost was established last month.
Tensions remain high in the region following the 11-day Gaza war in May. Activists mobilized by Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers launched incendiary balloons from Gaza into Israel for a third day on Thursday despite Israeli airstrikes the day before, the first since last month’s cease-fire.
The Israeli military said Wednesday that a soldier stationed near the wildcat outpost saw a group of Palestinians approaching, and that one “hurled a suspicious object at him, which exploded adjacent to the soldier.” The army said that the soldier fired in the air, then shot the Palestinian who threw the object.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said Ahmad Shamsa, 15, died of a gunshot wound sustained a day earlier.
Settlers established the outpost, which they refer to as Eviatar, near the northern West Bank town of Nablus last month and say it is now home to dozens of families. Palestinians say it is built on private land and fear it will grow and merge with other large settlements nearby.
Israeli authorities have evacuated the outpost on several occasions. They appear reluctant to do so this time because it would embarrass Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and other right-wing members of the fragile government sworn in over the weekend.
Palestinians from the nearby village of Beita have held several protests in which demonstrators have hurled stones and Israeli troops have fired tear gas and live ammunition. Four Palestinians have been killed since mid-May, including Shamsa and another teenager.
In a separate incident, the Israeli military shot and killed a Palestinian woman on Wednesday, saying she had tried to ram her car into a group of soldiers guarding a West Bank construction site.
In a statement, the army said soldiers fired at the woman in Hizmeh, just north of Jerusalem, after she exited the car and pulled out a knife. The statement did not say how close the woman was to the soldiers, and the army did not release any photos or video of the incident.
The family of Mai Afaneh insisted she had no reason or ability to carry out an attack.
In recent years, Israel has seen a series of shootings, stabbings and car ramming attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians in the occupied West Bank. Most have been carried out by Palestinians with no apparent links to organized militant groups.
Palestinians and Israeli human rights groups say the soldiers often use excessive force and could have stopped some assailants without killing them. In some cases, they say that innocent people have been identified as attackers and shot.
The Palestinians seek the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority exerts limited self-rule in population centers, as part of a future state along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Israel captured all three territories in the 1967 war and says Jerusalem is indivisible. There have been no substantive peace talks in more than a decade.
Palestinian Batoul Shamsa, 10, cries during the funeral of her brother Ahmad Shamsa, 15, in the West Bank village of Beta, near Nablus, Thursday, June. 17, 2021. The Palestinian health ministry said Thursday that Shamsa who was shot by Israeli troops in the West Bank a day earlier died of his injuries. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)