A Palestinian teenager has been shot dead in the occupied West Bank as Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds in the town of Beita near the city of Nablus.
The teenager, identified as 15-year-old Mohammed Hamayel, “died as a result of being shot in the face with live ammunition by the (Israeli) occupation” during the clashes, the Palestinian Health Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
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At least 13 wounded Palestinians were taken to a hospital, the ministry added.
According to Maan news agency, at least three Palestinians were also arrested.
Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim, reporting from the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, said on-site medics treated more than 112 injuries, adding that at least one more person remains in critical condition.
“Locals in the area say Jabal al-Armeh [al-Armeh mountain] is a very high area … one of the highest in the Nablus area, and settlers have been eyeing this location for years, since the 1980s,” Ibrahim said.
“There have been confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli settlers there. Usually, settlers like to settle on high areas … on hilltops … this is a way for them to keep an upper hand if anything happens, including demonstrations,” she said.
Demonstrators have been staging sit-ins in the hilltop village of Jabal al-Armeh since February 28 to deter illegal Israeli settlers from establishing a settlement outpost.
Beita Mayor Fuad Maali said the settlers renewed their attempt to reach the top of the mountain overnight, but hundreds of the town’s residents had camped out to block settlers the effort.
Palestinian youths stand amidst tear gas smoke during clashes with the Israeli armed forces [Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP]
Most of Israel’s settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and occupied West Bank are built with the government’s permission, outposts are constructed without authorisation and are illegal under Israeli law but still receive governmental support and financial assistance.
Under international law, settlements and outposts are considered illegal.
With the signing of the Oslo Accords, settlement-building was due to cease, but Israel continued to expand existing settlements on Palestinian land.
According to the news agency Wafa, Palestinians say settlers have become emboldened after US President Donald Trump’s Middle East Plan was announced in January following which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to annex settlements.
On Tuesday, Palestinian leaders slammed the Israeli defence ministry’s approval of planning for a road that would separate Palestinians and Israeli commuters east of Jerusalem – a highly controversial move meant to help advance a settlement plan in the strategically sensitive E1 region.
Israel’s plan to expand the Ma’ale Adumim settlement had been frozen since 2012 under international criticism, before it was revived by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks ago.
A week before Israel’s third election in less than a year that took place earlier this month, Netanyahu pledged to build 3,500 new illegal settler homes in the E1 region of the West Bank.
Some 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the occupied West Bank and Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem among about 2.9 million Palestinians.