Palestinian teen killed as Nablus tomb stormed by Israeli politicians

Israeli army comes under fire from Palestinian fighters while escorting far-right lawmakers to occupied West Bank site.

A Palestinian youth was killed on Wednesday during an army-protected raid by far-right Israeli lawmakers to a Nablus religious site in the occupied West Bank.

Mahdi Mohammad Hashash, 15, died in hospital after shrapnel hit his body during armed clashes that erupted in the vicinity of Joseph’s Tomb following the arrival of Israeli forces to the area, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Three more were wounded by rubber-coated steel bullets and dozens were injured by tear gas inhalation.

It was not immediately clear if Hashash died from Israeli gunshot wounds or an explosive device he was reportedly carrying.

The Palestinian Fatah Movement said Hashash was a member of the group’s armed wing, the al-Aqsa Brigades, and was killed by Israeli fire.

The Israeli army said it fired towards a person who “placed a bomb in the area” and that a “hit was identified”.

Israeli forces entered the area with armoured vehicles in the early hours of Wednesday to facilitate a visit by outgoing and incoming right-wing MPs to Joseph’s Tomb.

The religious site has long been a flashpoint due to regular tours by army-protected settlers, which Palestinian residents contest.

Palestinians and Israelis claim counter-narratives about the site’s religious and national significance. Palestinians believe it is the burial site of a cleric who lived in the nearby Balata neighbourhood in the 1900s.

Israelis say the shrine contains the tomb of the Prophet Joseph, a figure revered in both Islamic and Jewish traditions.

The Wednesday tour was arranged for members of the far-right Religious Zionism alliance, the ultra-Orthodox Shas party and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.

The three parties will likely be part of a future government coalition that includes prominent far-right leaders such as Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, who advocate for more Israeli settlements in the West Bank and oppose Palestinian statehood.

The tomb visit was part of a political event and was approved by the Israeli army division commander, the newspaper Haaretz reported.

Armed clashes erupted between Nablus-based Palestinian armed groups and Israeli forces during the raid.

The Lions’ Den group said on Telegram that it had joined the fighting alongside the Balata Brigade, the latest armed group formed in the city.

Hashash’s death takes the death toll of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and settlers this year to 136 so far, including at least 30 children.

It has been the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank on a monthly average since 2005, according to the UN.

In the same period, at least 22 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in various attacks, five of them shot dead in the occupied West Bank.

Source: Middle East Eye

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