Police clash with protesters after Israel killings of Palestinian men

Israeli police clashed with protesters as they tried to interrogate a Jewish extremist who fatally shot a Palestinian man. The 22-year-old Jewish man from the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba said he was…

Police clash with protesters after Israel killings of Palestinian men

Israeli police clashed with protesters as they tried to interrogate a Jewish extremist who fatally shot a Palestinian man.

The 22-year-old Jewish man from the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba said he was firing a rifle at Arab passersby because they were “evading Jewish travellers” to a concert when he killed one man and seriously wounded another.

The shooting occurred in Nazareth Illit, in northern Israel, on Tuesday, on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the assailant was questioned by anti-terrorism detectives on Thursday. The Jerusalem Post said he would not be charged.

Rosenfeld said the suspect shot the two men after they tried to block him, but added: “The real reason for shooting them was his fear of Arabs, after they ran away from the car,” as he drove his family to the concert.

Israeli security officials told AFP the assailant was not affiliated with any extremist group.

Following the incident, the chief rabbis of Israel and the occupied territories, Eliezer Waldman and Nathan Diament, issued a joint statement calling on Jewish extremists to desist from anti-Arab incitement.

“We do not encourage acts of terror against Arabs,” they said. “To the contrary, we beg anyone who is tempted to take this path to redirect himself in a more desirable direction. We also warn against the deliberate promotion of terror and terror attacks and call on everyone with accurate information not to share this information, even in the media.”

The shooting took place on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover, in which hundreds of people from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were marching in the Arab city of Nazareth Illit. Rosenfeld said the group included dozens of Jewish members of extremist religious and religious-secular groups.

But on Wednesday the Israeli police chief, Roni Alsheikh, a moderate, had said that Jewish extremists were behind the attack, saying an extremist group had launched the attack as a provocation.

According to an initial investigation, Rosenfeld said, the assailant stabbed a 61-year-old man in the neck after driving his wife and children to a concert in the Arab town. The Jewish man then fatally shot a second man, aged 35, as he was trying to help.

The assailant, whose motive is unclear, was arrested at the scene.

The incident followed calls from the settler movement for attacks on Arabs after four Arab Israelis were arrested in the past month for throwing rocks and petrol bombs. Three have been remanded, while the fourth was released pending more information.

“There is a huge problem there, with the direct instigation of stone-throwing,” Alsheikh told Israel Radio, warning that violence and stone-throwing could jeopardise the two countries’ relationship.

His comments echoed a call from the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, who told the UN general assembly last week that Israel must hold to account any settler who killed an Arab in the West Bank.

“The incitement to murder and the liquidation of Palestinians who do not meet the settlers’ eye is part of the Palestinian strategy to break the Israeli occupation and to attack Israel,” Abbas said, adding that there would be “no solution” in the Middle East “without ending the occupation and recognising the Palestinians’ right to live on their land”.

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