Israeli settler shoots Palestinian dead in land dispute

RAMALLAH: A 42-year-old Palestinian was gunned down and killed by an Israeli settler near Ramallah on Saturday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health has said.
The accused claimed that he opened fire after Tariq Ma’ali tried to stab him on Al-Raisan mountain, near Kufur Ni’ama town, northwest of Ramallah.

Palestinian sources told Arab News that Ma’ali was seeking to reclaim his land adjacent to the plot where the settler took control three years ago. There was a verbal dispute that developed into a quarrel, during which the settler shot Ma’ali, killing him.

His death takes to 18 the number of Palestinians killed by Israelis since the start of the year, a total which includes four children. Ma’ali is the second victim of settler violence during that time.

Observers say there has been a significant increase in attacks on Palestinians by the settlers since the formation of a right-wing government in Tel Aviv.
Ibrahim Melhem, a spokesman for the Palestinian government, told Arab News that the rise reflected “the features of the extremist government’s program and policy, which relies on killing Palestinians and seizing their land.”

He added: “There is no way to confront this killing, except with an international judicial decision to protect Palestinian civilians from the terror of the Israeli army and settlers.

“We are heading for worse, more dangerous, and deteriorating conditions in the coming days.”
Political analyst Riyad Qadriya told Arab News: “The current Israeli government supports settlements, which encourages settlers to seize more Palestinian land and continue physically attacking Palestinian citizens and destroying their properties.”

He added that the killings and the deduction of funds from the Palestinian Authority “lead to frustration among the citizens and officers of the Palestinian security services, some of whom may join resistance forces.”

Hamas said the Palestinian people “will continue their struggle against the Israeli occupation and respond to continuous crimes through more qualitative attacks until its removal from the Palestinian lands.”

Meanwhile, Israeli armed forces stormed several villages in the West Bank at dawn on Saturday. They arrested a person from the town of Ajja, near Jenin, who had been shot a few days earlier.

Eyal Alima, an Israeli military analyst, told Arab News that the country’s leadership believes that “a dangerous deterioration of the security situation in the West Bank is inevitable.”

High-ranking Israeli military sources said that the incursions into Palestinian cities will continue until the beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan on March 23.

An Israeli security official, who chose to remain anonymous, told Arab News: “We want to remove all elements and nutrients of tension before Ramadan, which is a sensitive period for security because of Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich earlier this month took the decision to deduct $40.85 million from the PA’s funds and transfer them to Israeli families of “terror victims.”

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir believes the amount deducted should be increased, reducing the fund available for Palestinian prisoners’ families.
Melhem said: “What else can we expect from Ben-Gvir and Smotrich other than measures of their terrorism and corruption?”