Jerusalem, Jul 20 (EFE).- One Palestinian was killed and three others wounded Thursday by gunfire from Israeli troops escorting settlers on a visit to a Jewish religious shrine in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said that Bader al-Masri, 19, died in the incident, and that two of the wounded were listed in critical condition at Rafidia Hospital.
Ahmed Jibril, director of the Red Crescent Ambulance and Emergency Center in Nablus, told PA official news agency Wafa that the Israeli occupation forces prevented an ambulance from reaching a 12-day-old infant suffering from tear-gas inhalation.
The Israelis also fired rubber-coated metal bullets at another ambulance transporting a patient near the Balata refugee camp, Jibril said.
The troops entered Nablus, a traditional bastion of Palestinian resistance, with a group of settlers making a visit to the site known as Joseph’s Tomb.
Israelis say the site holds the remains of the Old Testament prophet Joseph, honored by Jews, Christians, and Muslims, while Nablus residents believe that it is the tomb of a 20th-century cleric.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement that the soldiers “operated to secure the coordinated entrance of Israeli civilians to Joseph’s Tomb in the city of Nablus.”
Armed Palestinians burned tires, hurled explosive devices and rocks, and shot at the troops, who responded with gunfire and tear gas, the IDF said.
“Large forces of the occupation army stormed the eastern area (of Nablus) in order to secure the settlers’ storming of Joseph’s Tomb shrine, and also closed Amman Street with dirt mounds,” Wafa said.
The Times of Israel reported that the hundreds of worshippers included Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai and Chanmael Dorfman, chief of staff to far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir.
The newspaper described the pilgrimage as a “special visit” ahead of Tisha B’Av, a fast day that begins next Wednesday. But the army escorts visitors to the tomb roughly once a month and those incursions are virtually always the occasion for clashes.
In the wee hours of Thursday, the IDF carried out several raids on the occupied West Bank, seizing weapons and arresting five Palestinians.
So far this year, 162 Palestinians have died in the context of the conflict with Israel. While most of the fatalities were militia members, civilians have also been killed, including 27 minors.
Three soldiers are among the 27 Israelis who have died in violent encounters with Palestinian fighters.