Israel’s paramilitary border police said an officer killed a Palestinian assailant in the occupied West Bank on Friday after they wrestled over a weapon.
Dramatic amateur video captured the moments the officer fired the fatal shots, and the Palestinian dropped to the ground.
The video, widely shared on social media, was a rare documentation of one of the increasingly common violent incidents involving Israeli security forces and Palestinians, including assailants.
Rising Israeli-Palestinian tensions have made 2022 the deadliest year in the long-running conflict since 2006. Further escalation is likely, as the most right-wing and religious government in Israel’s history is poised to be installed in coming weeks, with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returning to power.
Friday’s violence took place along a busy road in the town of Hawara, south of the West Bank city of Nablus.
Police said the assailant carried a knife and tried to break into the car of an Israeli couple before the driver, who was an Israeli soldier on leave, shot and wounded him.
The assailant then moved toward border policemen patrolling nearby, stabbing one in the face, police said.
The commander of the unit tried to arrest the assailant. Amateur video shows the commander putting the Palestinian man in a choke hold, as two other Palestinians try to pull him away from the officer.
The video shows the Palestinian man grabbing the officer’s assault rifle which then drops to the ground. The officer pulls a pistol from a holster and fires four shots. The young man falls to the ground and is later pronounced dead.
Earlier on Friday, dozens of Israeli peace activists toured Hebron, the West Bank’s largest city, in a show of solidarity with Palestinians, amid chants of “shame, shame” from ultra-nationalist hecklers.
The encounter came a month after the strong showing of far-right factions in parliamentary elections and reflected the widening rift among Israelis over the nature of their society and the fate of the occupied territories.
In coalition agreements, Mr Netanyahu has already handed key authorities in the West Bank to ultra-nationalist faction leaders, including former fringe figure Itamar Ben-Gvir, known for his anti-Arab rhetoric. The new roles include oversight of Israeli settlement construction and the paramilitary border police, often deployed in Palestinian population centers.
At the same time, peace activists and pro-Palestinian rights groups have come under attack in recent years from right-wing politicians branding them traitors.
As about 200 peace activists arrived in the centre of Hebron on Friday, they were greeted by a group of protesters holding a banner reading: “The people of Israel demand: expel the anarchists from Hebron.”
One man shouting through a bullhorn yelled, “shame, shame,” as the visitors listened to tour guides in a parking lot, separated from the right-wing protesters by security forces.
Friday’s visit was part of the regular offerings of anti-occupation groups, but the turnout was larger than usual because of the election results, said Ori Givati, a spokesman for Breaking the Silence, one of the groups organising the trip.
He said activists were worried — but also determined to continue their work, including tours to West Bank hot spots like Hebron, where dozens of heavily guarded settlers live in a city of tens of thousands of Palestinians.
Those chanting slogans against the peace activists portrayed themselves as defenders of Israeli settlements and soldiers. Matan Gerafi of the right-wing Im Tirtzu group alleged the activists aimed to discredit soldiers and branded them “anarchists”.
Palestinians were largely out of sight as the Israeli groups faced off.
Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist in Hebron, said he believes the hardline ideology of Ben-Gvir and others will spread further in Israeli society.
“The settlers here are celebrating the election of their fascist representatives in the government,” he said. “What happens in Hebron will end in Tel Aviv.”