JERUSALEM – An Israeli settler shot and killed a Palestinian in the northern West Bank on Saturday, Palestinian health officials said, while an 8-year-old child died of injuries suffered a day before in a car-ramming attack in Jerusalem.
As night fell, warning sirens sounded in southern Israel when Palestinian militants fired a rocket from the Gaza Strip that was intercepted by Israeli aerial defenses, the Israeli military said. There was no immediate statement from Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza.
Saturday's events were the latest escalation in months of surging violence in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.
In the northern West Bank, near Salfit, a farming village of olive groves, video footage showed Israeli settlers racing down the hills and tearing into the town. As Palestinians poured into the streets to see what was going on, an Israeli settler opened fire, killing a 27-year-old villager, said Ghassan Douglas, a Palestinian official who monitors Israeli settlements in the Nablus region. The settlers dispersed when the Israeli military arrived, he said.
The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the villager who was killed as Methqal Rayan and said he was shot in the head. Video shared by the village council shows the settlers firing at least 10 gunshots toward the residents.
Douglas said that the northern West Bank has seen an intense wave of settler violence in recent days. On Friday, he said, just after the car-ramming attack in Jerusalem that killed three Israelis, settlers similarly streamed into the village and stole several sheep from a farmer. Settlers attacked and wounded Palestinians who tried to defend the farmer, he said.
Israeli police opened an investigation into the shooting of the Palestinian, the military said. It said Israeli security forces de-escalated the situation after the Palestinian was taken to the hospital.
In Jerusalem, Asher Menahem Paley, 8, died a day after a Palestinain man rammed a car into a bus stop in an Israeli settlement in the eastern half of the contested capital, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war. Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem announced his death Saturday. His 6-year-old brother was killed in the car-ramming, along with a man in his 20s.
After the attack, Israel's new hard-line government vowed a harsh response. Almost immediately, Israeli police arrested and interrogated the relatives of the suspected assailant, 32-year-old Hussein Qaraqa from the gritty east Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya.
Qaraqa’s family said he was born in Jerusalem but has family in Bethlehem. His uncle, 63-year-old Adnan Qaraqa in Bethlehem, told The Associated Press that his nephew had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.
Qaraqa said Hussein's mental problems started in 2008, when he was arrested for the first of several minor offenses. He alleged that Israeli interrogators badly beat Hussein in detention, from which he emerged “irrevocably changed.”
A few years later, Hussein fell from a crane at a construction site, his uncle said, sustaining a severe injury that worsened his mental condition. Hussein bounced between psychiatric wards for years, Qaraqa added, and was released from a hospital just two days before plowing into the crowded bus stop on Friday.
The West Bank has been on edge since Israel stepped up raids in the territory last spring, following a series of deadly Palestinian attacks inside Israel.
Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 2022, making it the deadliest year in those territories since 2004, according to leading Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Last year, 30 people were killed in Palestinian attacks on Israelis.
The pace of death has quickened this year. So far, 45 Palestinians have been killed, according to a count by The Associated Press. Palestinians have killed 10 people on the Israeli side during that time.
Associated Press writer Fares Akram in Hamilton, Ontario, contributed to this report.