SDE EFRAIM: An Israeli civilian shot dead a Palestinian on Saturday at a settler farm in the occupied West Bank after an attempted stabbing, the army said, the latest incident as violence surges in the territory.

While confirming a civilian had shot dead a Palestinian, the Israeli military said a “terrorist was neutralised” during the “attempted stabbing attack” at Sde Efraim farm, northwest of Ramallah.

The Palestinian health ministry said 42-year-old Tariq Maali was killed “after the occupation (Israeli forces) opened fire on him” near the Palestinian village of Kafr Nama.

The shooting brings to 18 the number of Palestinians killed so far this month. An AFP photographer saw Israeli forces preventing a Palestinian ambulance from accessing the site.

Israeli military says ‘terrorist neutralised’ at farm, northwest of Ramallah

Mahmoud Aidi, a Palestinian medic, said first responders tried to reach the scene but there was “a strong army presence concentrated on the hill, and we weren’t permitted to reach the person killed”.

The army said an Israeli ambulance took away the body of the man who was “already dead at the scene, so there was no medical treatment to be given”. No one else was wounded in the confrontation, it added.

The farm is known as a wildcat settlement, or an outpost not recognised by Israel, according to Israeli anti-settlement movement Peace Now.

Rising toll

All settlements are deemed illegal under international law, which Israel disputes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to pursue a policy of increased settlement expansion, and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies advocate the annexation of some of the territory.

The inauguration in December of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, led by Netanyahu, has sparked fears of a military escalation in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since the 1967 war.

Most of the 18 Palestinians killed in three weeks were shot dead by Israeli forces. The killings this month add to a toll that saw 200 Palestinians killed in occupied West Bank in 2022, the highest annual figure since United Nations records began in 2005.

The Palestinian health ministry did not provide further details on the circumstances of the latest incident, which comes nearly two years after a guard shot dead another Palestinian man at the same location.

In that February 2021 case, the Israeli army said the man tried to break into the house, which a Palestinian official claimed was built on his land.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2023

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