The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Violence Surges in Wake of Trump’s Mideast Plan

Clashes, shootings and a vehicle attack erupt in the West Bank and Jerusalem, killing Palestinians and wounding Israeli soldiers.

Palestinians inspected the rubble of a house in Jenin demolished by Israeli troops on Thursday. The home belonged to a Palestinian accused of being involved in the drive-by shooting of a rabbi two years ago. (Majdi Mohammed/Associated Press)

Isabel Kershner, New York Times, Feb. 6, 2020

JERUSALEM — At least three Palestinians were killed during clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank on Wednesday and Thursday, and an Israeli soldier was seriously wounded in a car ramming in Jerusalem overnight, in a surge of violence following the release of the long-awaited — and highly contentious — American plan for Middle East peace.

Among the three Palestinians were a Palestinian Authority police officer, whom Israeli forces said they shot by mistake, and a police cadet.

A fourth man armed with a pistol opened fire before noon Thursday on Israeli border police officers outside the Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, wounding one in the arm.

The attacker, who was shot dead by the police, was an Arab resident of Haifa, in northern Israel. According to Israeli news media reports, he had recently converted to Islam.

As one attack appeared to trigger the next, an Israeli soldier was lightly wounded on Thursday afternoon by Palestinian sniper fire north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

On Wednesday, Muhammad al-Haddad, 17, was killed by a shot in the chest, doctors said, as youths clashed with Israeli forces in the volatile Palestinian city of Hebron in the southern West Bank.

The Israeli military said that confrontation came after days of clashes in Hebron, with Palestinians throwing stones and firebombs at forces near the Jewish settlement in the heart of the city. The military said its soldiers had fired at an unidentified Palestinian who was seen hurling a firebomb.

In the early hours of Thursday, a Palestinian rammed a car into a group of soldiers on a sidewalk near a popular entertainment district in West Jerusalem, seriously wounding one and inflicting mild injuries on a dozen more, before fleeing the scene. The soldiers, recent recruits, had been on their way to a swearing-in ceremony in the Old City. The car was later found abandoned near Bethlehem.

Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinians in Bethlehem while searching for the suspect of a car-ramming attack in Jerusalem that injured several people. (Musa Al Shaer/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

The police cadet, Yazan Abu Tabikh, 19, was killed in clashes before dawn in Jenin, in the northern West Bank, after Israeli troops arrived to demolish the family home of a Palestinian accused of being involved in the fatal drive-by shooting of a rabbi, Raziel Shevach, near his West Bank settlement outpost two years ago. The military said Mr. Abu Tabikh had been shooting at soldiers.

The Palestinian police officer, Tareq Badwan, 24, was shot and mortally wounded as he stood at the entrance of his police station in Jenin.

A spokesman for the Israeli military, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, acknowledged that the officer had been shot by Israeli forces. He said Palestinians had been shooting at Israeli forces in Jenin at the time, including in the area where the officer was killed. He added that the army was investigating the exact circumstances of his death.

Tensions also remained high at the Gaza border, with Palestinians launching sporadic rocket and mortar fire and sending incendiary balloons into southern Israel. In response to mortar fire on Wednesday evening, the Israeli military said, its warplanes struck targets throughout the Gaza Strip overnight, including military infrastructure belonging to Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls the Palestinian coastal territory.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, blamed the escalation on the Trump administration’s Middle East plan, saying in a statement that it had created tension “by trying to impose false facts on the ground that we have repeatedly warned against.”

Mr. Abu Rudeineh added that the Palestinian people and leadership would stand firm against the plan, and would work to foil it “regardless of the sacrifices.”

Israeli police officers and medics at the spot in Jerusalem where a Palestinian was shot dead after, the authorities said, he fired at police officers. (Atef Safadi/EPA via Shutterstock)

The plan, which analysts say is heavily weighted toward Israel, would allow Israel to annex about 30 percent of the West Bank, including all the parts it deems important for security or as part of its biblical birthright.

In return, the plan makes the Palestinians a conditional offer of a truncated state made up of a disarmed Gaza Strip and chunks of the West Bank linked by roads and surrounded by Israeli territory. That arrangement would cast aside longstanding Palestinian hopes for a full-fledged independent state incorporating the vast majority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

On Thursday, Hamas praised the attacker who rammed the car into the soldiers, but did not claim responsibility.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had vowed that Israel would track down the driver of the car, adding in a statement, “Terrorism will not defeat us; we will win!”

Mohammed Najib contributed reporting from Ramallah, West Bank.