JERUSALEM (AP) — A Jewish settler shot dead a Palestinian man harvesting olives near the West Bank city of Nablus, the man’s uncle said Sunday. This brings the number of Palestinians reported killed by settlers to seven since Hamas’s bloody incursion into Israel three weeks ago.
Tayseer Mahmoud said his nephew, Bilal Saleh, was working in the grove in the village of Sawiya with his wife and their four children on Saturday when a group of settlers attacked them. Saleh, concerned about the safety of his children, tried to leave the area but a settler shot him in the chest, Mahmoud said.
Mahmoud said he didn’t witness the confrontation but was close by and reached the scene within minutes of the shooting. Saleh died before he could be taken for medical care, he said.
Settler leader Yossi Dagan said in a video posted to Facebook on Saturday that the shooter was accompanied by family members and fired in self-defense after they were “attacked with rocks by dozens of rioting Hamas supporters.”
The deadly shooting took place amid a spike in settler violence since Hamas militants infiltrated Israel on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,400 Israelis and taking over 230 others hostage. The incursion touched off a war that has killed more than 7,700 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
In addition to the killings, Palestinians in the West Bank have reported attacks on people and property, as well as denial of access to their land.
The violence has gotten so intense that it has drawn condemnation from U.S. President Joe Biden. Attacks by extremist settlers, Biden said, amounted to “pouring gasoline” on fires already burning in the Middle East since the Hamas attack.
The Israeli military said it received a report of a “violent confrontation” between Palestinians and Israeli civilians, and that a Palestinian was reported killed. Police have opened an investigation, it said.
This year has been the deadliest in the West Bank since the second Palestinian uprising against Israel two decades ago.
Since the outbreak of the war alone, more than 100 Palestinians, including civilians, have been killed, most during military arrest raids and violent protests in the West Bank.
France on Sunday condemned the deadly attacks by settlers in recent days and urged Israeli authorities to protect Palestinian civilian populations, notably in Suwiya.
“Violent acts perpetrated by settlers against the Palestinian population are multiplying. They are inadmissible and must stop,” the statement from the French Foreign Ministry said.