Israeli settler kills Palestinian who military says was planning attack

JERUSALEM (Reuters): An Israeli settler shot dead a Palestinian man who the Israeli military said was armed with knives and explosive devices on Friday near a city in the northern occupied West Bank.

The Israeli military said separately its forces raided a town near the Palestinian hub city of Ramallah overnight and opened fire on a crowd throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, hitting one person, without specifying whether they were killed or wounded.

Tension in the West Bank has been surging for months, with the near-daily military raids and escalating settler violence in the West Bank amid a spate of attacks by Palestinians.

Palestinian officials confirmed a 21-year-old man was killed by an Israeli settler near the city of Qalqilya on Friday but did not immediately note any casualties from the raid in Ni’lin.

Relatives of the man killed told Reuters he was religious but were not aware of any membership in Palestinian militant groups. They said the military was still withholding his body.

On Thursday, a Hamas gunman opened fire in Tel Aviv, wounding three people, one of them critically, before being killed by police and passersby. The Islamist militant group said the attack was a response to Israel’s killing of three Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank earlier that day.

During the operation in the town of Ni’lin on Friday, the Israeli military said it arrested two relatives of the Hamas gunman and mapped out his home for demolition.

Israel says such demolitions are meant to deter potential Palestinian assailants. Palestinians and rights groups condemn the policy as collective punishment.

Over the past year, Israeli forces have made thousands of arrests in the West Bank and killed more than 200 Palestinians, including fighters and civilians. More than 40 Israelis and foreign nationals have died in attacks by Palestinians over the same period.

Palestinians seek to establish a state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, areas Israel captured in a 1967 Middle East war. The expansion of Jewish settlements and deadlocked political progress have increasingly dimmed statehood prospects.