Israeli soldier killed in East Jerusalem checkpoint shooting

Israeli soldier killed in East Jerusalem checkpoint shooting
The soldier was killed when armed individuals opened fire at an Israeli military checkpoint in occupied East Jerusalem, the Israeli army said.
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Israeli police deploy following a shooting attack at a checkpoint in east Jerusalem [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty]

Armed individuals late Saturday opened fire at an Israeli military checkpoint in east Jerusalem, killing an Israeli soldier and injuring two others, the military said.

Israeli police said officers, soldiers and Shin Bet security agency operatives were involved in the search to apprehend the Palestinian attacker.

The shooting came at a time of heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions, just hours after a pair of Palestinian teenagers were killed in an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank. It also came less than 24 hours before Israel was to begin celebrating the weeklong Sukkot holiday, a time when tens of thousands of Jews visit the holy city.

This year has been the deadliest year in the occupied territory since 2015.

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The military raid occurred in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, the site of repeated clashes between Israeli forces and local residents.

Palestinian officials said soldiers entered the camp early Saturday and surrounded a house. In videos circulated on social media, exchanges of fire could be heard. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported two dead and 11 wounded, three of them critically.

The ministry identified the dead as Mahmoud al-Sous, 18, and Ahmad Daraghmeh, 16.

The Israeli military said it had arrested a 25-year-old man from the Islamic Jihad militant group who has previously been imprisoned by Israel. It said he had recently been involved in shooting attacks on Israeli soldiers.

It said soldiers opened fire during the raid when dozens of Palestinians hurled explosives and opened fire. “Hits were identified,” the statement said, giving no further details.

Just before noontime, the Israeli forces appeared to withdraw from the area.

The incident occurred a day after two Palestinian teenagers, ages 14 and 17, were killed by Israeli fire in separate incidents elsewhere in the occupied West Bank. Rights groups accuse Israeli forces of using excessive force in their dealings with the Palestinians, without being held accountable.

Since last spring, Israel escalated its military operations throughout the territory, especially in the northern West Bank. Israel claims attacks against it were carried out by Palestinians from the area.

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Israel claims it is forced to take action because Palestinian security forces, who coordinate with the military in a tense alliance against Islamic militants, is unable or unwilling to crack down. Palestinian security forces say the military raids have undermined their credibility and public support, especially in the absence of any political process. The last round of substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks ended in 2009.

Israel claims most of those killed by its forces were militants. But local youths protesting the incursions as well as some civilians have also been killed. Hundreds have been rounded up, with many placed in so-called administrative detention, which allows Israel to hold them without trial or charge. Over 100 Palestinians have been killed this year.

Additionally, there is a deepening disillusionment and anger among young Palestinians over the tight security coordination between Israel and the internationally backed Palestinian Authority.