The Israeli army said the Palestinian man killed Saturday night was seen outside Kdumim, a settlement in the northern West Bank, “armed with a pistol… and was neutralized by the community’s civilian security team.” Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, identified the man as 18-year-old Karam Ali Salman, a resident of the village of Qusin, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The report says he was fatally shot by an armed Israeli settler in circumstances that remained “unclear.”
Wafa said at least 144 Israeli settler attacks, some minor stone-throwing incidents, others much more violent, were reported on Saturday in the West Bank, the occupied territory Palestinians envision as part of their future state. Meanwhile, Israeli authorities on Sunday began demolishing Palestinian homes in retaliation for Friday’s synagogue shooting and vowed an expansion of West Bank settlements, which could further inflame an already volatile situation.
In Masafer Yatta, in the south, settlers assaulted a Palestinian; in two villages near Ramallah, masked attackers set a house and car on fire and threw stones; in Nablus, settlers uprooted almost 200 trees.
On the outskirts of the northern village of Akraba, dozens of settlers have set up a new unauthorized outpost. They attacked Palestinian landowners who arrived at the scene and then wounded a doctor who came to help, according to Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group. The Israeli army did not intervene, the report added.
There has been an “unprecedented increase in the frequency of terror attacks against Palestinian citizens and their property,” said Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official.
Early Sunday morning, Israeli security forces blocked access to the home of the family of the Palestinian gunman who killed seven people outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem on Friday night, sealing the doors and windows. The authorities promised that the house would soon be demolished.
The shooter, who died at the scene, has been identified as 21-year-old Khairi Alqam. Alqam was named for him after his grandfather, who was fatally stabbed in 1998, allegedly by a Jewish attacker who was arrested but never charged with the crime, the Israeli news site Ynet reported.
As Israeli security forces stood guard outside the four-story house, which housed several generations of his family, neighbors gathered. One man, Abu Jamal, a 50-year-old electrician, wondered aloud how the Israelis would move bulldozers into the area to demolish such a large structure.
Abu Jamal said the atmosphere in the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem was inflammatory. “This new government is a radical government,” he said. “They will keep putting more and more and more pressure on us, until we explode.” He clicked and pointed to his head.
At an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Our response will be strong, swift and precise. Whoever tries to hurt us, we will hurt him and anyone who helps him.
Although Israeli police believe Alqam acted alone, they have arrested at least 42 people in connection with the shooting, including members of his immediate family. Security forces have been deployed in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
On Saturday, another attack occurred at an Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem, just outside the Old City walls, when a 13-year-old Palestinian from a nearby neighborhood shot and wounded two Israelis. The boy was detained by an armed civilian at the scene, according to Israeli police.
Netanyahu’s new government is the most right-wing in Israeli history, an alliance of settler activists, religious conservatives and hardline nationalists who say past moves to counter Palestinian violence have not been tough enough.
After the shooting outside the synagogue, the Israeli authorities announced new anti-terrorism proposals and an easing of restrictions on civilian gun ownership, without going so far as to order retaliatory military strikes.
At a government meeting on Sunday, far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir demanded that, in exchange for the seven killed on Friday, the government should, within seven days, authorize seven illegal settlements in the West Bank. , according to Israel’s Channel 12 News.
The latest outbreak of violence began on Thursday during an early morning Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp, the deadliest operation in two decades, Palestinian officials said. Another Palestinian man, Omar Tareq Saadi, 24, died on Sunday from injuries sustained during the raid, bringing the death toll to ten.
Israeli raids on the West Bank have intensified dramatically over the past year, making 2022 the deadliest for Palestinians there since the United Nations began systematically tracking deaths in 2005. At least 30 Palestinians have already been killed this year, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
The violence coincides with pre-arranged visits to the region by US officials, who for weeks have been warning of an escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s scheduled visit for Monday and Tuesday will include meetings with Netanyahu in Israel and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, the State Department said.
US administration officials have struggled to figure out how to avoid dealing directly with far-right Israeli ministers, including Ben Gvir, who has been convicted multiple times of inciting anti-Arab hatred and who rose from the political periphery to become minister of national security with a promise to enforce the death penalty for Palestinian terrorists and allow Israeli soldiers to shoot Palestinian stone throwers.
On Sunday, Israeli forces demolished a house in the Jabal al-Mukabir neighborhood of East Jerusalem, built by Rateb Matar, a 49-year-old construction worker who said he had no ties to the recent violence. He has been in a legal battle with the Jerusalem municipality since 2017, racking up thousands of dollars in fines and fees for illegal construction.
“According to the city we are all here illegally, all the houses,” he said. Matar said he believed his house was demolished so Ben Gvir could show his supporters that he was up to something.
It’s all him. He gave the order. He signed the paper. He wanted this on TV,” Matar claimed.
On Saturday night, a small crowd of Israeli protesters gathered near an intersection leading to a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem. One of the youths said that he wanted “to let the terrorists know that we are here.”
As they began to surround a car, the police shouted at the driver, who appeared to be a Palestinian, to roll up his window and keep going. The police then pushed the crowd away as they hit the vehicle. A man was carrying a sign, in Hebrew, that read “revenge!”
Ayreh Blumberg, 66, a plumber from the nearby Ma’ale Adumim settlement who took part in the demonstration, said anyone who supports the Palestinian attackers, including family members, should be deported.
“I think they should be given a one-way ticket out of Israel,” he said.
Among the victims of Friday’s shooting near the synagogue was 14-year-old Asher Natan, who was buried on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives on Saturday night.
Also killed were a married couple in their 40s, Eli and Natalie Mizrahi, who were buried side by side early Sunday in a hilltop cemetery in the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh.
During the funeral, several mourners said their deaths were part of a larger divine plan for Israel. One mourner read the scriptures and said that “of course anyone who has been killed in the name of God, and absolutely if they were killed by Palestinians, it is in the name of God, so there is a purpose to that terrible tragedy.”
“The terrorist came to the synagogue knowing that he would kill Jews just because they were Jews,” Israeli Economy Minister Nir Barkat said.
He was interrupted by Eli Mizrahi’s sister, who yelled: “Get out of here. You are speaking like this because there are means here. You’re putting on a show!”
Sufian Taha contributed to this report.