The UN’s Middle East envoy has termed the killing of a Palestinian man by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank “shocking and unacceptable”.
Nikolay Mladenov on Sunday called on Israel to “put an end to settler violence and bring those responsible to justice”.
Hamdi Naasan, 38, succumbed to his wounds on Saturday near the village of al-Mugheir after Israeli settlers from the nearby illegal settlement of Adei Ad fired shots.
According to the Palestinian health ministry, Naasan was shot with a live bullet in the back. At least 30 other Palestinians were injured, of whom six were shot with live ammunition, according to Maan news agency.Thousands gathered in al-Mugheir village to attend the funeral of Naasan.
The Israeli army temporarily obstructed mourners from reaching the burial site by putting up a roadblock between the highway and a road leading to the village. In an ensuing confrontation, the Israeli army arrested two Palestinian teenagers.
The Palestinian leaves behind his wife and four children – the oldest, a 10-year-old and the youngest, a one-year-old baby.
Al-Mugheir, a village with around 4,000 residents, is surrounded by four Israeli settlements, considered illegal under international law.
‘They came to kill’
Ataf Naasan, the slain Palestinian’s cousin, told Al Jazeera that a group of settlers carrying weapons attacked the outskirts of their village on Saturday at noon.
Eyewitnesses told Al Jazeera that Naasan was killed while was carrying one of the wounded to an ambulance.
“When we came, they started shooting at us,” Ataf said. “They aimed at our heads, our stomachs. They were firing randomly.”
“When he put [the wounded man] down, they shot him,” Ataf said.
Ataf emphasised that the settlers were carrying extra rounds of ammunition.
“I’ve never seen this before,” he said. “They were prepared, and they came to kill.”
Al-Mugheir residents told Al Jazeera that the Israeli army witnessed the events from 2km away, but did not intervene.
“The army did not come until the settlers finished their ammunition. Then they started shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at us,” Ataf said. “Can you believe this? They attacked us instead of arresting the settlers.”
The Israeli army said in a statement that a settler from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Adei Ad had a “physical confrontation” with several Palestinians and was slightly hurt.
“Shortly thereafter, a conflict erupted between Israeli civilians [settlers] and Palestinians in the area, in which live rounds were fired by the civilians [settlers],” the statement said.
Tzuriel Amiur, a spokesperson from the illegal settlement of Adei Ad said that a settler had been “attacked by a group of Palestinians who stabbed him and threw stones at him”.
In response, a group of settlers headed for al-Mugheir. They were then “ambushed” by as many as 200 Palestinians throwing rocks, Amiur said.
When the army arrived, “civilians and soldiers were afraid for their lives and opened fire”, he said.
Amin Abu Alya, head of the al-Mugheir village council, however, said on Saturday that the settlers had opened fire before the army moved in.
“At the beginning, it was settlers shooting, then the army came and fired tear gas,” he told AFP news agency by phone.
Asked who shot Naasan, he said it was settlers.’
‘Rocks against guns’
The village of al-Mugheir has long been a victim of “price tag attacks”, in which Israeli settlers, often religious hardliners, enter the village to damage Palestinian property.
On January 17, settlers cut 35-year-old olive trees with electric saws and painted stars of David on rocks in an olive grove belonging to Abed al-Hai Naasan, a resident of the village, the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported.
The violence in al-Mugheir has increased in the last two months, as the villagers started organising peaceful marches every Friday to protest the establishment of a new illegal outpost, Mevo Shiloh, in an abandoned army base in the area.
The villagers slammed the Israeli army and the civil administration for promising to evacuate the outpost, illegal under Israeli law, and not living up to the promise.
“They just let [settlers] do whatever they want,” Ataf said. “There is no difference between the army and the settlers.
“But we are not afraid of them,” he said. “We will keep resisting until they leave. Rocks against guns. We’ll fight them with our bare chests.”
Naasan is the fourth Palestinian to be killed in the last two days.
On Saturday, Ayman Hamed, 18, was put to rest in his village of Silwad in the occupied West Bank after the Israeli army shot and killed him the previous day. The Israeli army claimed he was throwing stones.
Israeli police killed another Palestinian, Riyad Shamasneh, during a high-speed chase near the Old City’s Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem on Saturday morning.
Gaza resident Ehab Abed, 25, was killed by Israeli fire during the weekly Friday demonstrations near Israeli fence.
The violence in al-Mugheir comes days after Israel charged a Jewish teenager with manslaughter for the death of a Palestinian woman in the occupied West Bank.
Over 600,000 settlers live in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 war.DONATE FOR PEACE