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US confirms citizen killed in West Bank as Israeli-Palestinian violence escalates

Extensive damage occurred in the West Bank village of Huwara after a night of torching and vandalism by Israeli settlers and following a deadly Palestinian attack earlier on Sunday that killed two Israeli brothers.
Israeli security forces examine the site of a reported shooting attack, near Jericho in the occupied West Bank on February 27, 2023. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

The State Department confirmed on Monday that a US-Israeli dual citizen was killed in a Palestinian attack near the town of Jericho following a night of deadly violence in the West Bank.

Spokesperson Ned Price said on Monday that an Israeli man killed near Jericho was also an American citizen. 

"We condemn the horrific killing of two Israeli brothers near Nablus and the killing today of an Israeli near Jericho who we understand was also an American citizen," Price said. 

The identity of the victim has not been released. He died from his wounds after being shot by a suspected Palestinian gunman.

Two other shootings were registered minutes later in nearby locations, yet no one was hurt in these incidents. Israeli security sources believe the three shootings were carried out by the same assailant, who escaped by foot after trying to set his own vehicle on fire. Israeli troops are now deployed in the environs of Jericho, attempting to apprehend the assailant.

The attack follows deadly clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the occupied territory.

The United States and France condemned on Sunday night a Palestinian attack in the West Bank that killed two Israeli brothers. That attack was followed by vandalism and torching acts by Israeli settlers in the Palestinian village of Huwara near Nablus.

Referring to both incidents, Price said that de-escalation of tensions is required. "These developments underscore the imperative to immediately de-escalate tensions in words and deeds. The United States will continue to work with Israelis and Palestinians and our regional partners toward restoring calm," he noted.

The French Foreign Ministry urged all parties to avoid fueling violence and called Israel an “occupying power.”

“In particular, France calls on the Israeli government, as part of its responsibility as the occupying power, to protect Palestinian civilians and prosecute the perpetrators of the violence committed today," read the French statement.

The two Israeli brothers — Hallel and Yagel Yaniv, ages 22 and 20 — were shot at point-blank range by a Palestinian gunman as they drove through the village of Huwara Sunday morning. Huwara has been the epicenter of several clashes, riots and lynch attempts in past years, as settlers frequently pass by the village.

Shortly after the killing of the Yaniv brothers, settler groups began calling for demonstrations to avenge the shooting. Dozens of settlers then started marching from neighboring settlements toward Huwara, calling and chanting for revenge. Arriving at the village, they set fire to homes and cars and broke storefront windows.

According to Palestinian sources, one man was killed, four people were injured and hundreds more were treated for smoke and tear gas inhalation during the settler violence. Palestinian media said some 35 homes and cars were burned to the ground, with dozens more homes and cars damaged. 

A 37-year-old Palestinian, Sameh Aqtash, was shot dead in Zaatara village near Nablus, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

Some 450 settlers arrived Sunday evening to the evacuated Eviatar wildcat outpost to resettle it in reaction to the attacks earlier in the day. On Monday morning, Israeli security forces started to evacuate the settlers from the site. 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held Israel responsible for the escalation. 

As of Monday morning, Israeli security forces are still hunting for the assailant. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered all Israeli security forces, including intelligence bodies, to use all necessary means to apprehend the attacker.

Sunday’s incidents came on the backdrop of a summit that took place in Aqaba, Jordan, in a bid to restore calm to the region ahead of the month of Ramadan starting at the end of March. Israeli, Palestinian, American, Jordanian and Egyptian senior officials participated at the summit, with Jerusalem pledging to temporarily hold off on advancing any unilateral measures for the next three to six months.

In a clarification issued later by the Netanyahu government, it was said that Israel does intend to follow up on prior decisions for legalizing nine wildcat outposts and advancing the construction of some 10,000 housing units in settlements. In parallel, it was said, Israel will not initiate any other settlement expansion plans for the next four months.


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