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Palestinian teenager killed in raid as thousands of Israeli settlers march to West Bank outpost

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Thousands of Israelis – led by at least seven Cabinet ministers – marched to an evacuated West Bank settlement on Monday, threatening to raise tensions that have been heightened by days of unrest across the region.

Monday’s march took place in the northern West Bank. Thousands of Israeli police and army forces were reportedly deployed to secure the march. Tensions have reached a fever pitch in the region after two police raids on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The march to Eviatar, an unauthorized settlement outpost in the northern West Bank that was evacuated in 2021, was being led by hard-line ultranationalist Jewish settlers.

Several members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet, including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir — both West Bank settlers — and at least 20 members of the Knesset were taking part in the march.

Speaking at the march, Ben-Gvir said, “We are here to say that the Israeli nation is strong” and that “we are here and will remain here.”

Visits to Eviatar have been banned since its evacuation, but that prohibition has been loosely enforced in recent months. Israeli army spokesperson Richard Hecht said the military approved Monday’s march, saying it would be “highly monitored and highly protected.”

The march passed without major violence, though Israeli troops fired tear gas at Palestinians in the nearby village of Beita who hurled stones toward soldiers to protest the march. The Palestinian Red Crescent medical service said two people, including a journalist, were shot by Israeli rubber bullets, while 115 people suffered from tear gas inhalation.

A 15-year-old Palestinian boy killed in West Bank raid

Elsewhere in the West Bank, Israeli troops killed a 15-year-old Palestinian boy during a raid. “The boy Muhamed Fayez Bilhan, 15, was shot and killed in the head, chest and abdomen by the [Israeli] occupation in the Aqabat Jabr camp in Jericho,” a Palestinian Health Ministry statement said.

At least one other person was wounded by bullets and was taken to a hospital, the same source said.

The Israeli Army confirmed that its troops operated in Aqabat Jabr, adjacent to the Palestinian resort city of Jericho, “to arrest a terror suspect” who will be tried before Israeli authorities.

“During the operation, violent riots were instigated in several locations. When the soldiers left the area, the suspects opened fire at them and threw explosive devices and Molotov cocktails. The soldiers responded with fire,” said an army spokesperson. There were no reported injuries among Israeli forces.

The soldiers surrounded the entire camp and raided the site “to arrest activists, and during the raid, Palestinians clashed with the soldiers who opened fire on them,” confirmed the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

On Friday night, Israel announced the mobilisation of reserve police units and military reinforcements, after a ram car attack in Tel Aviv that claimed the life of an Italian tourist. 

Another shooting attack in the occupied West Bank last week killed two British-Israeli sisters. Their mother later died from her wounds on Monday.

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