RAMALLAH, West Bank: Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian during a gunfight in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian medical sources said on Tuesday, as troops fought to rescue two soldiers who were attacked after straying into a violent trouble spot, the army said.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said a 22-year-old man died of gunshot wounds and six were wounded in the violence at the Qalandia refugee camp. Israel’s chief military spokesman, Brigadier-General Motti Almoz, said five soldiers were hurt.
An Israeli police spokeswoman said five paramilitary border policemen deployed to help extract the two soldiers were also injured.
A military spokeswoman said the soldiers’ vehicle was pelted with rocks and petrol bombs forcing them to flee and they were rescued shortly afterwards under a hail of missiles.
Almoz told Army Radio that commanders were investigating whether the two soldiers had inadvertently entered the Qalandia camp by relying on satellite navigation on their mobile phone.
The Qalandia camp lies north of Jerusalem and on the outskirts of Ramallah, the Palestinian seat of government. An area known for lawlessness, it is a point of frequent violence between Palestinian protesters and Israeli troops.
The incident came during a period of heightened tensions in which Palestinian stabbings, shootings and car rammings have killed 28 Israelis and a U.S. citizen since October.
Israeli security forces have killed at least 170 Palestinians, 112 of whom Israel says were assailants, while most others were shot dead during violent anti-Israeli protests.
The latest bloodshed has been fuelled by various factors, including a dispute over Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound and the failure of several rounds of peace talks to secure the Palestinians an independent state in Israeli-occupied territory.
Palestinian leaders have said that with no breakthrough on the horizon, desperate youngsters see no future ahead. Israel says young Palestinians are being incited to violence by their leaders and by Islamist groups calling for Israel’s destruction.