Second killing in a day by Israeli forces in Jerusalem and West Bank

AFP  /  April 2, 2023

Authorities say both deaths were in response to threats: a man grabbing a police officer’s gun at Al-Aqsa Mosque, and a car ramming near Beit Ummar.

A man was killed by Israeli soldiers after a West Bank car ramming on Saturday, the army said, in an escalation threatening to end a relative lull during the holy month of Ramadan so far.

The Palestinian’s death came less than 24 hours after an  Israeli Palestinian allegedly snatched a gun from a police officer at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and fired it before being shot dead.

The army said a “terrorist” had conducted a “ramming attack adjacent to the town of Beit Ummar”, with a spokesperson confirming to AFP the presumed assailant’s death.

Magen David Adom medics said three men were taken to hospitals in Jerusalem with serious, moderate and light wounds.

In a statement, the Palestinian Authority identified the dead man as Mohammed Baradyah, 23.

Earlier on Saturday, police said they shot dead 26-year-old medical student Mohammed al-Asibi, a resident of the Bedouin village of Hura in southern Israel.

According to police, Asibi had snatched a gun from an officer and fired it at other police officers close to the nearby Chain Gate, an access point to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Passers-by reported hearing gunfire, and an AFP photographer saw scores of police deployed in the Old City at around 1am.

Asibi’s family disputed the police account of his death and demanded to see CCTV footage, Israeli media reported.

Raam, the Israeli parliament’s Islamist party, rejected the police account of events and called for an investigation, citing claims from witnesses who said Asibi went to the aid of a woman who was in a scuffle with police.

The umbrella organisation representing Israel’s Palestinian citizens announced a “general strike and day of mourning” on Sunday following the “execution” of Asibi.

Police stood by their version of events and issued another statement on Saturday afternoon saying that the site of the attack was not covered by surveillance cameras.

A video released by police showed what was described as Asibi milling around the compound alone. Another video showed people at the Chain Gate reacting in fright, presumably to the sound of gunshots.

The police also rejected the notion a woman was involved, saying Asibi “arrived alone”, with officers suspicious of his presence at the compound after closing hours.

The shooting occurred a few hours after tens of thousands of Palestinians had packed Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for the second Friday prayers of Ramadan, which had passed off peacefully despite fears of bloodshed during the holy month.

An upsurge in violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the beginning of the year has raised fears of bloodshed during Ramadan.

Since the start of the year, conflict has claimed the lives of 88 Palestinians, including militants and civilians, and one Israeli Palestinian.

Fourteen other Israelis, including members of the security forces and civilians, and one Ukrainian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both sides.