JERUSALEM – A Palestinian rock-thrower killed an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday and police wounded a Palestinian who tried to stab security staff at a checkpoint, Israeli authorities said.
The separate events marred a relative lull in West Bank violence during the coronavirus outbreak. Palestinians and Israelis have restricted their movements and, to a degree, cooperated on measures in response to the crisis.
On Thursday, however, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to swear in a new coalition government whose agenda includes a possible declaration of sovereignty over Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank – a de facto annexation. [nL8N2CT604]
The Israeli military said a 21-year-old conscript died after being struck in the head by a rock thrown from a rooftop in Yabad village, near Jenin, as his special forces unit withdrew after detaining four wanted Palestinians.
The military said troops were back in the village, searching for the rock-thrower, and Netanyahu said on Twitter that Israel would “settle the score with him”.
A few hours later, a Palestinian tried to stab Israeli security staff at Qalandiya, a checkpoint around 50 km (30 miles) to the south on the West Bank boundary and was shot, an Israeli police spokesman said. The wounded Palestinian was taken by ambulance to hospital in critical condition, an Israeli emergency service said.
The Palestinians want the West Bank for a future state and deem Israeli settlements there illegal, as do most world powers. Israel and the United States dispute that view.
U.S.-backed peacemaking between the two sides broke down in 2014.
Israel’s proposed territorial steps in the West Bank are expected to be discussed during a one-day visit on Wednesday by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who will meet Netanyahu as well as the premier’s designated coalition partner, Benny Gantz.
“We (also) hope that we can convince the Palestinian leadership that they should engage with the Israelis on the basis of the (Trump) Vision for Peace,” Pompeo told the Israel Hayom newspaper in an interview.
President Donald Trump unveiled a new peace plan in January, but his administration has been boycotted by the Palestinians, who see bias in moves such as his 2017 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The initial Israeli raid on Yabad was launched to arrest Palestinians suspected of previously throwing rocks at Israeli cars and of other offences, the military spokesman said.
By midday, 16 Palestinians had been arrested in the Jenin area, Palestinian officials said.