Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinian women in separate incidents in the West Bank on Sunday, further heightening tensions between Israelis and Palestinians after weeks of deadly attacks. In a third incident, a Jewish man was shot dead in Israel after allegedly trying to steal a gun being carried by a soldier.
In the first incident, on Sunday morning, a 47-year-old woman was shot as she approached a checkpoint near the West Bank village of Husan. The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the woman as Ghada Sbatin, a widow and a mother of six.
The Israeli army said the woman, who it did not name, had been told to stop by soldiers as she approached the checkpoint. When she failed to do so, soldiers fired warning shots in the air, the army said. Video of the incident appears to show the woman breaking into a run as she moves forward, at which point, the army said, soldiers “fired towards the suspect’s lower body.”
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said the woman was taken to hospital but died after losing large amounts of blood. The Israeli army says soldiers found no weapons on the woman. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh condemned the shooting, saying he holds the Israeli government, “fully responsible for the consequences of this heinous crime.”
Later Sunday, Israeli border police said a Palestinian woman who stabbed a police officer in Hebron was shot and killed. The incident happened near to Hebron’s holiest site, known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque. The officer was lightly injured in the assault, police said.
Tensions in Israel and the West Bank have been high for weeks, after a series of attacks by Palestinian gunmen on Israeli civilians, which have killed 14 people. Israeli soldiers have conducted sweeping operations in the West Bank in response.
On Saturday night, Israeli security forces carried out a raid in the village of Yaabad – which they say was home to the gunman who killed five people last month in the central Israeli city of Bnei Brak. The army said it “apprehended eight suspects involved in terrorist activities and confiscated illegal weapons.” It also said it had come under attack from locals, including a suspect who “hurled an explosive device” at soldiers. The Palestinian Ministry of Health said six people were injured in the clashes, one from a bullet and five by tear gas.
Also overnight Sunday, a site believed to be the burial place of the prophet Joseph, in the West Bank town of Nablus, was damaged by a group of Palestinians, Israeli officials said.
On Sunday evening, in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, police said a Jewish man who tried to steal a gun from a female soldier was “neutralized” by another soldier who was nearby. Israeli media reports say the man was shot dead. He had a history of mental illness, according to reports.
Meanwhile, Israel’s government has responded to calls to make it harder for Palestinians to enter Israel illegally by announcing plans to build an additional 40 kilometers (25 miles) of what it calls the “seam line barrier” – which separates Israel and the West Bank. The new construction will be a concrete wall up to 9 meters (about 30 feet) high, a government statement said.