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Palestinian killed by Israeli settler gunfire in response to stone-throwing

A wounded Palestinian journalist next to the body of a man killed by an Israeli settler. The Israeli was firing back at stone-throwers
JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP
The settler said he was forced to fire because his life was in danger, saying 'they almost lynched me'

A Palestinian was shot dead and two people were injured when a settler opened fire on a crowd throwing stones at vehicles close to the West Bank city of Nablus.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health named the deceased as Moataz Hussein Thaya, a 23-year-old from the village of Beita.

The ministry said that the two injured included an Associated Press photographer covering the demonstration, which was taking place near the town of Huwara, when it escalated.

“A violent riot broke out near Hawara, in which hundreds of Palestinians threw rocks at passing vehicles,” a military spokesperson said.

Initial reports suggest that the Israeli drove towards a crowd of approximately 200 demonstrators near a military post. When the crowd blocked the vehicle and began to throw projectiles, the settler and Israeli soldiers fired shots Palestinian security sources told the AFP news agency.

According to the Times of Israel, the settler fled the soon after firing the shots. He later told the army that he “fired into the air.”

He also told Israel's Channel 2 news that the Palestinians “almost lynched” him.

The army made a statement that it was aware of the casualties and that it is "being looked into.”

The demonstration apparently blocked a road into one of the nearby settlements from central Israel.

A spokesperson for the Samaria Regional Council said the man was on his way home from grocery shopping when he passed through the demonstration and his car was attacked with stones and projectiles.

“Thank God I managed to get out of there. I looked death in the eyes,” he said.

“They are blocking the road that goes from the Gav Hahar settlements to the center of the country. They throw rocks at cars full of families and children,” the spokesperson said.

This was the third day in a row of demonstrations on the highway near Hawara, the spokesperson also noted.

Tensions have been high in recent weeks with hunger striking prisoners from various Palestinian political factions -- including Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and some members of the Islamist group Hamas -- making demands including the installation of public telephones and televisions in prison wards, the resumption of academic studies and bi-monthly visitations for inmates, and re-location to facilities in the Palestinian territories.

In a letter released on Sunday, imprisoned Palestinian hunger strike leader and former Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti called on Palestinians to carry out "acts of civil disobedience"

A wave of unrest that broke out in October 2015 has claimed the lives of 264 Palestinians, 41 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP count.

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