The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “reaching a boiling point,” given a surge in violence in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, the United Nations’ point man in Jerusalem warned on Monday.
Tor Wennesland says he has not yet had contact with Israel’s incoming government.
Israeli troops shot dead three Palestinians in the occupied West Bank Tuesday, Palestinian officials said, before a suspected car-ramming attacker was killed after seriously wounding a woman, Israeli medics and the army said.
The army confirmed its troops had fired on “rioters” in two separate West Bank clashes overnight.
The 20-year-old woman was in “severe condition” with a head injury following the suspected car-ramming north of Jerusalem, medics said. Jerusalem’s Shaare Tzedek hospital confirmed the alleged attacker had been killed.
The West Bank has suffered spiralling violence this year, with near daily Israeli army raids leading to scores of deaths — of Palestinian fighters and also civilians — while Jewish settlers have been increasingly targeted by at times deadly Palestinian violence.
In Kafr Ein, near Ramallah, two brothers were killed by Israeli fire, the Palestinian health ministry said.
A third man died of bullet wounds to the head fired by Israeli troops in Beit Ummar, near the flashpoint city of Hebron, the ministry said.
Commenting on the Beit Ummar clash, the Israeli army said it had opened fire on “rioters” who “hurled rocks at the soldiers” after two vehicles got stuck during an “operation patrol” in the area.
Palestinian official news agency Wafa named the dead man as Mufid Mahmud Khalil, 44, from the Beit Ummar area.
The health ministry identified the dead in Kafr Ein as brothers Jawad Abdulrahman Rimawi, 22, and Dhafer Abdul Rahman Rimawi, 21.
The Israeli army said “a violent riot was instigated by a number of suspects,” during “routine” overnight activity in the Kafr Ein area.
“The suspects hurled rocks toward the soldiers, who responded with riot dispersal means and live fire,” an army statement said, adding that the military was “aware” of reports of two fatalities.
“The incident is under review,” the army said.
Palestinian Authority civil affairs minister Hussein Al Sheikh described the killing of the two brothers as an “execution in cold blood”.
Near the West Bank settlement of Migron, the army reported “a ramming attack”.
The Magen David Adom emergency response agency said its staff treated “a 20-year-old female injured in a car-ramming terror attack with a head injury in severe condition,” and took her to Shaare Tzedek hospital.
There was no immediate word on the woman’s identity but a hospital spokesperson said: “All indications are that she is Israeli.”
On Monday, the United Nations envoy for Middle East peace, Tor Wennesland, warned the situation in the West Bank was “reaching a boiling point”.
“High levels of violence in the occupied West Bank and Israel in recent months, including attacks against Israeli and Palestinian civilians, increased use of arms and settler-related violence, have caused grave human suffering,” he told the Security Council.
This week, the army announced it had made more than 3,000 arrests this year as part of Operation Break the Wave, a campaign it launched following a series of deadly attacks against Israeli civilians.
The UN says more than 125 Palestinians have been killed across the West Bank this year.
Israel has occupied the territory since the Six-Day War of 1967. An estimated 475,000 Jewish settlers now live in the territory, alongside some 2.9 million Palestinians, in communities considered illegal under international law.
Tuesday’s violence came as veteran hawk Benjamin Netanyahu continued negotiations to form what could be the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, following a general election earlier this month.
On Friday, Netanyahu signed an agreement with lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir that promised the far-right firebrand the new post of national security minister, with responsibility for the border police in the West Bank.
Ben-Gvir, known for anti-Arab rhetoric, has repeatedly called on police and soldiers to use more force when confronting Palestinian unrest.
When asked by JNS whether he had made contact with Israel’s presumptive incoming government, Wennesland responded that he “deals with one government at a time” but noted his involvement in de-escalating last May’s 11-day Israel-Gaza aerial conflict while presumptive Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was previously in office.
Responding to a reporter’s question about whether he expected added difficulties in dealing with Israel’s incoming government, given its inclusion of hardline right-wing elements, Wennesland quipped that “it’s hard to deal with any government in the Middle East.”
“It’s the Israeli population that are electing their own government. It is a process of the internal dynamics in Israel,” he said. “I can assure you one thing—the U.N. will work with this government in one way or another.”
Today, the U.N. hosts its International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on the anniversary of the 1947 U.N. vote to partition the British Mandate of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, a motion the Arab world rejected in a decision that Israel says still drives the conflict.
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