Skip to main content

Israeli soldiers kill Palestinian man at checkpoint

By Kevin Flower, CNN
  • NEW: Two foreign workers injured by rocket striking a kibbutz
  • It's the second such shooting in a week
  • Explosive devices were found on the man's body, the military says
  • Palestine
  • Israel
  • Middle East

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man at West Bank checkpoint Saturday, marking the second time in a week that soldiers have opened fire at that location.

Meanwhile, two foreign workers at a kibbutz in the south were injured in the latest of a series of rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel, the Israeli military said.

The reports illustrate a recent eruption in tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, whose peace talks have been stalled over the contentious issue of Israeli settlement construction.

In the West Bank incident, a taxi pulled up to the Nablus area checkpoint and a Palestinian man made his way toward Israeli security personnel yelling "God is great" in Arabic while carrying a "suspicious object" in his hands, a spokesman for the Israeli military told CNN.

Soldiers began an "arrest procedure" and yelled at the man to stop and fired warning shots, but the man did not stop advancing, the spokesman said.

"The soldiers were left with no choice but to fire at him," the spokesman said.

The man later died from his wounds. Two explosive devices and a knife were found on his body, the Israeli military said.

The official Palestinian state news agency, WAFA, reported that Palestinian medical teams were denied access to the man.

A Palestinian witness at the scene said that before the shooting, he observed the man heading toward the checkpoint and ignoring soldier's commands to turn back though he did not offer any details on whether the man might have been carrying some sort of explosive device.

The shooting comes a week after another Palestinian man was shot and killed at the same checkpoint under disputed circumstances.

The Israeli military said Sunday that a man had approached soldiers at the checkpoint from an unauthorized lane holding a glass bottle. The military said soldiers called on him to stop, but that the man did not comply and continued to approach the soldiers.

He came within a few meters of soldiers, "who then operated according to (Israeli military) rules of engagement, firing towards him," the military said in a statement released after the shooting.

The Israeli military said it was investigating that incident, and reported that the soldiers feared the man was going to stab them with the glass bottle.

An eyewitness to the incident told CNN that he did not see the man holding a glass bottle and that the man was left on the ground for a full 30 minutes before receiving medical attention.

Saturday's shooting is the latest in a series of violent incidents involving Israeli and Palestinians in both the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

On Friday, a 66-year-old Palestinian man was mistakenly killed in his home by Israel commandos conducting a raid to arrest a member of Hamas in the West Bank City of Hebron. The shooting prompted cries of outrage from Palestinians and some 4,000 mourners gathered for the man's funeral Friday afternoon.

The Israeli military released a statement expressing regret over his death but offered no details as to what went wrong.

The Gaza-based militant group Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the Saturday attack on the kibbutz in the Sha'ar HaNegev region of southern Israel. A kibbutz is an Israeli collective settlement, which has been traditionally agricultural.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli military said one worker was seriously injured and the other moderately wounded. The nationalities of the workers were not immediately available.

Also Friday, an Israeli soldier was killed and four were wounded by a mortar shell fired by their own forces on the Gaza border as they responded to what they said was Palestinian militant activity along the border fence.

Gaza militants have increased attacks into Israel using crude rockets while the Israeli military is targeting militants more with airstrikes.

Two Palestinian men trying to cross the border fence from Gaza into Israel were killed Wednesday by Israeli fire. On Thursday and Friday, Gaza saw consecutive Israeli airstrikes.

The Israeli military said that in the first week of the year, more than 10 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel's southern communities, and Israeli forces hit "several terror-related sites" in response to the missiles.

On Thursday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned Benjamin Netanyahu against initiating "any new assault" on Gaza, state-run Nile TV reported.

The warning came as the two Middle East leaders met in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss the deadlocked talks.

Mubarak said Egypt would reject "any new assault on the people of Gaza," Nile TV said. Two years ago, Israel staged an offensive into Gaza prompted by cross-border rocket fire into Israel.

Gaza officials said more than 1,400 Palestinians died, and the Israeli military said 1,166 people were killed in the 22 days of fighting, 60% of whom were "terror operatives."

Nile TV said the 82-year-old Egyptian leader emphasized to Netanyahu "the necessity for Israel to reconsider their position and policies, and to take the initiative and conduct procedures that will build trust with the national Palestinian authorities."

Netanyahu believes there is a possibility for a resumption of talks and asked Mubarak "to persuade the Palestinians to move to direct, intensive and serious negotiations -- in which all core issues will be raised -- forthwith."

The statement added, "Netanyahu said that Israel is committed to aggressively fighting terrorist elements in Gaza that endanger its security and peace."

Palestinian officials have called for a halt in Israeli construction in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, which they consider to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Israel, which annexed the eastern part of the Jerusalem in 1967, considers the entire city to be its sovereign capital, a claim not recognized by the international community.

As for the peace process, Tony Blair, the Middle East Quartet's special representative, said recently that if substantial talks don't begin soon between Israel and the Palestinians, all parties will face "profound trouble."

The Quartet, devoted to making peace in the region, consists of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia.