Israeli soldier killed in East Jerusalem shooting

A Border Police officer stands guard at the entrance to Shuafat refugee camp during a manhunt following a shooting incident at a checkpoint in East Jerusalem, October 9 (Reuters)

Lubna Masarwa

Middle East Eye  /  October 9, 2022

Israeli forces launch manhunt in Palestinian refugee camp where shooter is believed to have come from.

An Israeli soldier was killed in a shooting on Saturday night in occupied East Jerusalem.

According to Israeli media reports, a suspected Palestinian gunman approached the checkpoint leading to Shuafat refugee camp around 9 pm local time and fired at Israeli forces standing guard.

An Israeli soldier identified as Noa Lazar (18) was pronounced dead from her wounds later in the night. 

Another Israeli guard was seriously wounded and taken to Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem, which on Sunday said he remained in severe condition. 

A large manhunt was launched to find the shooter, who is believed to be from the Shuafat refugee camp.

Khedir al-Dibbs, an activist and member of the Shuafat Camp Popular Committee, told Middle East Eye that life in the camp and surrounding areas has been completely “crippled” by an Israeli shutdown. 

Entrances and exits to the camp, which is cut off from the city centre by Israel’s separation wall, have been closed off as Israeli forces began search raids in the area. At least five army vehicles carrying hundreds of soldiers were brought in to the camp, according to Dibbs.  

A population of around 100,000 has been “besieged”, Dibbs added, with no one allowed in or out, including medics and workers, and schools have been shut down. 

“It has been getting worse by the minute since last night,” Dibbs told MEE on Sunday. “Things are likely to escalate with this collective punishment being exercised on us by the army.”

Palestinian sources said Israeli forces fired teargas and stun grenades in the camp, raided several homes and made many arrests. 

Three Palestinians who were allegedly with the suspected shooter in the car, including the driver, were arrested, Israeli forces said. The three men, who are in their 20s, deny playing a role in the attack or any knowledge of the shooter’s intentions. 

Earlier on Saturday, tensions were high near Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem’s Old City after Israeli forces assaulted Palestinians gathered to mark the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. 

At least 17 Palestinians were wounded after Israeli forces used rubber-coated bullets, teargas and stun grenades to disperse the crowds, Palestine Red Crescent Society said. Ten people were hospitalized. 

At least 22 people were arrested. 

Elsewhere, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian teens in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on Saturday morning, hours after it killed two more minors, including a 14-year-old boy, near Qalqilya and Ramallah. 

Dibbs said the Israeli occupation is to blame for the escalation in violence and that acts of resistance were a normal response.

“We are part of the Palestinian people. The same thing that is happening in Jenin, Nablus, Hebron/Al-Khalil, Tulkarm and all the Palestinian areas, is happening in Shuafat.” 

West Bank escalation

Israeli forces had raised the alert level in recent weeks after warnings of possible attacks against Israeli targets amid an escalation in the occupied West Bank.

More than 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire this year, including 50 in the Gaza Strip and at least 110 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The death toll rate in the West Bank is the highest recorded in a single year since 2015. 

Meanwhile, at least three Israeli soldiers have been killed since May, including Lazar. 

Omer Barlev, Israel’s public security minister, vowed that his forces “will lay their hands on the attacker, alive or dead”, as Prime Minister Yair Lapid expressed sympathies with Lazar’s family in a statement. 

The Palestinian movement Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, welcomed the shooting. 

“The crimes of the occupation against the Palestinian people and Al-Aqsa Mosque will not go unanswered,” the group said in a statement. 

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed wing associated with the Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the attack but the shooter is largely thought to have acted without affiliation with any group.

Lubna Masarwa is a journalist and Middle East Eye’s Palestine and Israel bureau chief, based in Jerusalem