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Israeli settlers kill Palestinian in latest West Bank rampage

Two villagers also wounded in shooting as armed Israelis torch cars and attack residents near Ramallah
Qusai Jamal Maatan, 19, was shot dead by Israeli settlers on 4 August 2023 (Social media)
Qusai Jamal Maatan, 19, was shot dead by Israeli settlers on 4 August 2023 (Social media)
By Fayha Shalash in Ramallah, occupied Palestine

Israeli settlers shot and killed a Palestinian man during an attack on an occupied West Bank village late on Friday. 

The Palestinian health ministry identified him as 19-year-old Qusai Jamal Maatan. 

Two others were wounded in the assault on Burqa, near Ramallah, which coincided with settlers torching vehicles and attacking homes and residents. 

Ahmed Barakat, a resident of the village, told Middle East Eye the attack started in the early evening, with settlers arriving in the village from a nearby settlement outpost established several months ago on Palestinian land.

"The attack was from three directions, and the settlers were armed. They assaulted the residents, torched two vehicles, and fired at the young men who tried to confront them," Barakat said. 

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During the attack, the Palestinians threw stones to prevent the settlers from advancing further, but they were met with live fire, which wounded three young men, including Maatan. He later died in hospital. 

According to Barakat, the settlers brought their sheep to agricultural land that they were trying to seize in the village. After several hours, they advanced towards the residents and started attacking them.

"The Israeli army claims that it wasn't present at the time of the attack, but it was protecting the settlers as always," he said.

'The Israeli army claims that it wasn't present at the time of the attack, but it was protecting the settlers as always'

- Ahmed Barakat, Burqa resident 

"The soldiers don't leave the settlers alone inside the Palestinian villages and always protect them, even if they are armed."

The Israeli military said it arrested two people over Maatan's killing and said it was investigating the incident. 

UN experts and human rights groups have previously accused Israeli authorities of enabling settler violence and failing to prosecute Israeli offenders or protect Palestinians. 

Only three percent of investigations into settler violence led to a conviction between 1995-2022, according to Israeli NGO Yesh Din. 

Rising attacks 

Maatan's death comes amid a record rise in deadly settler attacks against Palestinians. 

Since the start of the year, at least eight Palestinians have been killed during settler attacks, compared with five Palestinians killed by suspected settlers in 2022. 

While Israeli settler violence against Palestinians is common in the West Bank, Maatan's death comes as the number of attacks has grown in recent years at an alarming rate, according to UN human rights experts.

UN figures show settler attacks have been on a year-to-year upward trend since 2016, with 228 attacks recorded in 2022 leading to casualties. 

Burqa, located east of Ramallah, is a frequent target of such attacks. 

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Settlers often descend on the village from the nearby Givat Assaf outpost, which was established in 2002. 

The outpost is located at a hill between Burqa and another Palestinian village, Beitin. Palestinian say settlers want to expand the outpost to include land from both villages. 

Residents also suffer restrictions on movement that have been imposed on them by the Israeli army since the early 2000s. The main road leading to the village from Ramallah is closed, forcing Palestinians to travel hours instead of minutes when they do seek to move. 

The military also restricts farmers' access to their land due to the presence of Israeli settlements in the area. 

Nearly 700,000 settlers live in more than 250 settlements and outposts across the West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of international law.

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