World News

Israeli military investigating killing of Palestinian man near settler outpost

Posted January 27, 2019 1:44 p.m. EST

— The Israeli military is investigating a case in which a Palestinian man was killed under disputed circumstances near an illegal settler outpost north of Ramallah in the West Bank.

Hamdi Na'ason, a 38-year-old father of four from the village of al-Mughayyir, was shot and killed on Saturday following what the military called a "conflict" between Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the area.

A statement from Israeli police, who are assisting in the investigation, said authorities are taking testimonies from the scene and are looking into the incident. According to initial details, the military said an Israeli settler shot and killed Na'ason.

Both sides blamed each other for the outbreak of violence that led to Na'ason's death.

"We hold the Israeli government fully responsible for this new crime," PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said in a statement.

The shooting happened near the illegal outpost of Adei Ad. Outposts are small settlements, which, in addition to being illegal under international law, are also illegal under Israeli law, because they were established without the authorization of the Israeli government.

Yochanan Rosenzweig, chairman of Adei Ad, told Israel Army Radio that an Israeli youth had been stabbed near the settler outpost. The Israeli military in its statement regarding the incident said an Israeli civilian had been "lightly injured but had not required medical evacuation." Rosenzweig also claimed that what he called a "security squad" had been "ambushed" by hundreds of "wildly behaved Arabs." He said they felt afraid for their lives and began shooting in the air. The army then became involved and used live fire, according to Rosenzweig, adding that it was not possible to know who fired the shot that killed Na'ason.

Disputing Rosenzweig's last claim, an IDF spokesman told CNN that the preliminary examination shows Na'ason was not killed by military fire.

Amin Abu Alia, a community leader of al-Mughayyir, told CNN that settlers -- some of whom were armed -- attacked a group of Palestinian farmers from the village. In the ensuing confrontation, Abu Alia said three Palestinians were shot. Na'ason, who was returning from work, was shot in the neck while trying to get the injured to an ambulance, Abu Alia said. Emergency workers couldn't reach him for 30 minutes due to tear gas fired by the Israeli military, Abu Alia added.

Settlement watchdog Peace Now also blamed the settlers for the outbreak of violence and called on law enforcement to prosecute those responsible.

"For a number of weeks, Jewish terrorism in the territories has reared its head, and the leadership of the right wing has been shamefully silent," the Israeli group said in a statement. "The hilltop youth criminals are doing everything in their power to set the territory alight, and the incident today proves that the security forces are a pawn in their mission of annexation and their messianic vision."

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, called on Israel to end settler violence.

In a tweet, Mladenov said: "Today's violence in #AlMughayer is shocking & unacceptable! #Israel must put an end to settler violence & bring those responsible to justice. My thoughts & prayers go out to the family of the #Palestinian man killed & those injured. All must condemn violence, stand up to terror."