Palestinians say teen shot, killed in IDF clash during Jewish West Bank pilgrimage

Palestinian officials said a 16-year-old Palestinian died early Wednesday after being wounded during clashes with the Israel Defense Forces near a Jewish shrine in the West Bank.

The Palestinian health ministry said Ghaith Yamin was wounded by a gunshot to the head and died at a hospital.

Wafa, the official Palestinian Authority news agency, reported that the clashes erupted when Jewish worshipers, escorted by the military, arrived at Joseph’s Tomb on the outskirts of Nablus to pray.

At least 15 Palestinians were wounded by live fire, according to Wafa, during the clashes near Joseph’s Tomb, a frequent flashpoint site. Some Jews believe biblical Joseph is buried at the site, while Palestinians say it’s the tomb of a sheikh.

According to the military, hundreds of Palestinians threw rocks and firebombs at Israeli forces, who fired at a suspect who hurling a Molotov cocktail.

“A hit was identified,” an IDF statement said.

The IDF also reported troops on the ground heard gunfire, and videos posted to social media appeared to show heavy gunfire near the tomb.

Jewish pilgrims are usually only allowed to visit the tomb once a month under heavy security. During these visits, Palestinians routinely throw rocks at the troops, and frequently attack them with Molotov cocktails and gunfire.

Last month the shrine underwent a major renovation under heavy guard after Palestinians twice broke into the site and vandalized it.

Some 100 Palestinians had broken into the site, rioted, set it ablaze and smashed objects inside before they were dispersed by Palestinian security forces and the IDF, the military said at the time. A day later, Palestinians entered the site again, causing more damage.

View of the Balata Refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus, May 15, 2022 (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

The area has also seen recent clashes between Palestinian gunmen and IDF soldiers, who have been entering the nearby Balata refugee camp amid counterterror operations in the wake of a number of deadly terror attacks.

Israeli security forces have stepped up their operations in the West Bank following a deadly wave of terror attacks inside Israel that have left 19 people dead since March 22. The raids have concentrated on the increasingly unstable Jenin area, from where several of the attackers hailed, and the military said Wednesday morning that six suspects were arrested overnight across the West Bank.

At least 30 Palestinians were killed over the same period, according to the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry. Some were shot by Israeli soldiers while committing terror attacks, while others were engaged in violent gunfights with soldiers, and still others — such as Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh — were civilians.

Abu Akleh was killed amid clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen in Jenin. The Israel Defense Forces says it has not yet been able to determine who fired the fatal shot.

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