Israeli soldiers shot and killed two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in the early hours of this morning, injuring a third.
The pair have been identified by the Palestinian Ministry of Health as 20-year-old Amir Mahmoud Daraj from Kharbatha Al-Misbah, west of Ramallah near Israel's Separation Wall, and 20-year-old Yousef Raed Anqawi from the neighbouring village of Beit Sira. The third has been identified as Haytham Basel Alqam from Safa, also west of Ramallah, though his condition remains unknown.
The incident took place at around 03:30 this morning outside the village of Ni'ma (Kufr Nimeh), northwest of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. However, further details of the incident remain contradictory. Israeli media reported that the trio were shot after allegedly carrying out a car ramming attack which left two Israeli soldiers injured. The injured soldiers had raided Ni'ma and arrested a number of its Palestinian inhabitants, but as they then tried to exit the area, their vehicle broke down and was reportedly attacked, the Times of Israel reported.
However, Palestinian accounts disputed this version of events, with the Mayor of Ni'ma Khaldoun Al-Deek telling Wafa that "Israeli forces opened fire towards three Palestinians in a vehicle that was on its way out of the village". Al-Deek added that, following the fatal shooting, "Israeli forces seized the vehicle and detained a local resident identified as Yousef Mahmoud Al-Deek."
Meanwhile Ma'an, quoting local eye witnesses, suggested that the incident could have been a "normal" car accident. Witnesses claimed that the "three were workers and were on their way to their workplace when they were surprised by Israeli soldiers," when their vehicle "slipped on the wet road, hitting the soldiers' military vehicle."
Palestinian factions today condemned Israel's actions, with a Hamas spokesman saying that those who "rebel against the [Israeli] occupation will not cease until it is done, and will not accept the plans [for] the Judaisation of Jerusalem".
Israel meanwhile responded with further force, firing tear gas at villagers who took to the streets to protest the killings. Israeli forces then sealed off the village, preventing students from reaching their schools and assaulting others, Ma'an added.
Israeli politicians have also promised to inflict further punishment on West Bank Palestinians, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing to demolish the family homes of those killed. Speaking ahead of a diplomatic meeting this morning, Netanyahu said that he "will do everything to speed up the demolition," saying he has already directed the authorities to begin the preparations, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Israeli forces regularly kill Palestinians with impunity. According to a recent report by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)'s Abdullah Al-Horani Centre for Documentation and Studies, Israeli forces killed eight Palestinians and wounded 810 others across the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) in February alone. Though many of these killings were carried out in the besieged Gaza Strip during the Great March of Return protests, many incidents also took place in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem in the wake of the reopening of Al-Rahma Gate in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.