Israel cuts PA tax transfers, slaps closure on Hebron after West Bank attacks
Hazem Bader (AFP)
The Israeli army has imposed a closure on and around the West Bank city of Hebron, a military spokesman said Friday, in the "most substantial steps on the ground" since 2014, after series of deadly attacks in the region.
Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said the army was also deploying hundreds more soldiers in Hebron, but could not say how long the measure would last, noting that in the recent wave of violence approximately 80 attacks by Palestinians against Israeli civilians and security forces "originated in the Hebron area".
Very limited movement is to be permitted for humanitarian purposes, and the restrictions are to apply only to Palestinian residents.
The announcement came hours after an Israeli man was killed and three family members wounded when a Palestinian gunman opened fire on the family's vehicle near the settlement of Otniel outside of Hebron in the West Bank, causing the car to flip over.
The Israeli military said it was searching for the perpetrator or perpetrators, who fled the scene after firing shots.
The deceased man was named as named as Miki Mark, director of a nearby yeshiva, and the Ynet news site reported that he was a cousin of Mossad chief Yossi Cohen.
Hospital staff said a 40-year-old woman was seriously wounded, a 14-year-old girl suffered moderate-to-severe wounds, and a 15-year-old boy was lightly wounded. The wounded are believed to be his wife and children.
On Thursday, a 13-year-old girl was stabbed to death in her home in the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba.
Following the attacks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Israel would counteract money transfers from the Palestinian Authority commonly given to attackers' families by deducting the amount from Israel's monthly tax revenue transfers to the PA.
"Netanyahu has ordered that the entire amount of support for terrorists and their families be deducted from the tax revenues that Israel transfers monthly to the Palestinian Authority," the Prime Minister's office said.
Israel transfers around $127 million in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports monthly.
The statement accused the PA of supporting the families of militants with funds transferred "by various laundering methods".
"Israel believes that the encouragement of terrorism by the Palestinian leadership -- in the form of both incitement and payments to terrorists and their families -- constitutes incentive for murder," the statement read.
Palestinian dies as rioters clash with police
Earlier in the afternoon, a Palestinian man died and many more were injured in clashes with Israeli security forces at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank, according to Palestinian media reports.
Palestinian media reports said the man suffocated from tear gas, while Israeli officials said he suffered a heart attack after being struck by a rubber bullet.
"A man in his 50s died of tear gas asphyxiation after (Israeli) soldiers used tear gas against Palestinians at Qalandia," the Palestinian health ministry said in an Arabic-language post on its official Facebook page.
Reports of the of injured ranged from ten up to 40. Three Israeli personnel have also reportedly received light injuries.
The clashes reportedly broke out as a group of Palestinians attempted to cross through the checkpoint to attend Friday prayers at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem for the last Friday of Ramadan.
Hours earlier, a Palestinian woman attempted a stabbing attack near Hebron's Cave of the Patriarchs in the West Bank. The woman was shot dead at the scene and no Israeli injuries were reported.
Police said the attacker approached a Border Police checkpoint, pulled out a knife, and tried to stab an officer, who then shot her.
The Cave of the Patriarchs, known as the Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslims, is believed to be the biblical burial place of Abraham and is held sacred by both Jews and Muslims in the city.
Hebron, a stronghold of the Islamist movement Hamas and a powder keg in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is a city where 500 Israeli settlers live among Palestinians behind barbed-wire, observation towers and under army protection.
The Ynet news site identified the woman as 27-year-old Sara Hajaj from the West Bank village of Bani Na'im
The attempted stabbing comes a day after a Palestinian assailant broke into a Jewish household in the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba and stabbed a sleeping 13-year-old girl in her bedroom.
She was taken to hospital where she succumbed to her wounds. Thursday evening, the US State Department confirmed that the girl, Halel Yaffa Ariel, also held US citizenship.
The assailant, identified as Mohammed Nasser Tarayra, 19, was shot and killed, the Israel Defense Forces said. He was from the same village as Hajaj, according to Ynet.
It is unclear whether Mohammed Nasser Tarayra is in any way related to the female Palestinian assailant, Sara Hajaj, whose maiden name was reported to be Tarayra, Ynet says.
Also Thursday, two Israelis were wounded in a stabbing attack at a market in the coastal Israeli city of Netanya.
Violence since October has killed at least 214 Palestinians, 33 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese.
Most of the Palestinians were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, according to Israeli authorities.
Others were killed in clashes with security forces or by Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.
(Staff with agencies)
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"Israel cuts PA tax transfers..." Is there nothing this 'Jewish State' won't try to steal? Their God must truly be disappointed in what they have become.