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Israeli forces close roads in Nablus area amid settler protest

May 19, 2017 3:53 P.M. (Updated: May 20, 2017 10:18 A.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces closed the Huwwara checkpoint and the Yitzhar road, which leads to the notoriously right-wing settlement by the same name, while dozens of Israeli settlers protested in southern Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank Thursday night following a deadly shooting carried out by an Israeli settler near the Huwwara village.

According to locals, Palestinian villages in Nablus had called for residents to take a stand against the Israeli settlers, who have committed several attacks in the area over the last month, while Israeli settlers also organized themselves to “show their presence” to Palestinian residents.

Ghassan Daghlas, a government official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that dozens of Israeli settlers from the Yitzhar settlement protested in the area under the protection of armed Israeli forces.

He added that Israeli forces closed Huwwara checkpoint and Yitzhar road for Palestinians.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an she would look into reports on the protest and road closures.
An Israeli settler killed 23-year-old Muataz Bani Shamsa on Thursday after stepping out of his vehicle and opening fire on a crowd of Palestinians, who were clashing with Israeli forces following a solidarity march for Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.

Following the shooting, an Israeli settler, under the protection of Israeli soldiers, was filmed distributing candy to passing Israeli vehicles south of Nablus in celebration of Shamsa’s killing following the incident.

Hours after the shooting, Israeli news daily Haaretz reported that the settler was not being investigated by Israeli police as a criminal suspect, and had instead filed a criminal complaint against the Palestinian protesters, who the settler said were attempting to “lynch” him.

Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in violation of international law.

Palestinian activists and rights groups have long accused Israel of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israeli settlers and soldiers committing violent acts against Palestinians.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were a total of 107 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in 2016.

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