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Israeli forces fire at Palestinian driver, detain him after apparent traffic accident

July 18, 2016 12:56 P.M. (Updated: July 18, 2016 10:29 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces on Monday morning opened fire at a Palestinian truck after it collided with an Israeli vehicle on Route 60, a main highway near Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, according to local sources.

Witnesses told Ma’an that in an apparent traffic accident between a Palestinian-plated vehicle and an Israeli-plated vehicle, Israeli soldiers opened fire at the truck with a Palestinian registration plate.

Israeli soldiers then detained the Palestinian driver after he pulled over his vehicle. Local sources identified him as Hisham Mahmoud Abu Ayyash from the village of Beit Ummar north of Hebron.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an they were looking into reports.

Israeli forces have come under repeated criticism for excessive use of force against Palestinians since a wave of unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel last fall, marked by actual and alleged stabbing, shooting, and car ramming attacks, primarily carried out against Israeli military targets as well as settlers.

On June 21, Israeli forces shot and killed a 15-year-old Palestinian and seriously injured four other Palestinian teens while they were driving in their car. The Israeli army said initially that Mahmoud Badran, the slain teen, was a "terrorist" involved in nearby stone-throwing, though they later admitted he was an "uninvolved bystander" to the incident.

Days later, a Palestinian woman was shot and killed after her car crashed into a stationary vehicle, lightly injuring two Israelis in an alleged car-ramming attack, near the entrance of the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba in the eastern outskirts of Hebron.

More than 220 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces or settlers since October, many of whom were killed while carrying out individual attacks. Some 32 Israelis have been killed during the unrest.

Israeli authorities meanwhile have launched a crackdown in response to the escalation, promoting a “shoot-to-kill” policy against Palestinians, which has been accused by rights groups, international leaders, and Palestinian officials of enacting a policy of "extrajudicial executions."

According to Israeli rights group B'Tselem, “There have been many reports since October of a policy permitting shoot-to-kill in incidents in which Palestinians harmed, or attempted to harm, Israeli security personnel or civilians, even when there is no clear and immediate mortal danger or if the danger can be overcome without resorting to a lethal outcome,” B’Tselem wrote.

Monday’s incident also comes as Israeli forces continued to impose large-scale closures on entrances to villages throughout the district in the wake of a series of gun and knife attacks and alleged attacks that left two Israelis killed and two Palestinians shot dead in Hebron in less than 48 hours earlier this month.

Route 60 was the site of a fatal shooting attack on July 1 carried out by a still unidentified gunman on an Israeli vehicle near the illegal Israeli settlement of Otniel, while another gunman remains at large for a shooting that targeted an Israeli vehicle near Teqoa, another Hebron-area settlement.

Villages in Hebron that have been completely sealed over the past month included Sair, Yatta, and Bani Naim, as blockades throughout the district have affected tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians.

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