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Israeli soldier shoots Palestinian dead at point-blank range

Video footage shows four shots being fired at man in occupied West Bank's Huwwara
An Israeli soldier shoots a Palestinian man at point-blank range in the occupied West Bank town of Huwara on 2 December 2022 (Screengrab)

An Israeli soldier shot a Palestinian man dead at point-blank range in the occupied West Bank town of Huwwara near Nablus on Friday.

A video of the incident shared online showed the soldier scuffling with the Palestinian man before pulling a gun and firing four shots.

The Palestinian was hit in the upper body and fell to the ground.

Two of the shots hit him while he lay on the ground.

'He acted professionally as expected of any soldier or officer'

- Israel's police commissioner

The shooting left residents at the scene dismayed. Many had attempted to break up the fight. 

The Palestinian health ministry said a Palestinian man was killed in Huwwara.

Palestinian media identified him as 22-year-old Ammar Mefleh. 

According to Israeli media, a Border Police spokesperson said the shooting was in response to an alleged stabbing attack. 

In a statement, the spokesperson said a Palestinian man attempted to attack two Israelis in a vehicle, one of them was an off-duty soldier. They then shot and wounded him. According to the spokesperson, the Palestinian man then targeted officers who operate the Huwwara military checkpoint and attempted to take a soldier's weapon before being subsequently shot again.

Haaretz said it was not clear whether the man who committed the alleged stabbing attack is the same person who was shot dead in the video shared online.

Two officers were lightly wounded during the incident, the Israeli army said. 

Israel's police commissioner Kobi Shabtai praised the soldier who killed the Palestinian man.

"He acted professionally as expected of any soldier or officer," he said.

A Palestinian eyewitness speaking to local media denied the Israeli version of events.

He said that after a settler shot at the Palestinian man from his car and wounded him, Israeli soldiers attacked the man and let the settler off.

The young man then attempted to free himself from the soldier before being shot dead. 

'Shoot-to-kill' policy

Palestinian groups were quick to condemn what they called a "cold-blooded field execution" as a "war crime" which they said reflected the new far-right Israeli government.

Israeli forces have long been criticised for their "shoot-to-kill" policy against Palestinians in cases where the victims did not pose an imminent threat to the lives of the Israeli soldiers who then killed them. 

Rights groups say the policy amounts to "summary execution".

Mefleh is the ninth Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces this week amid a spike in Israeli violence against Palestinians in the West Bank this year.

Israeli forces and settlers have killed 159 Palestinians, including at least 30 children, in the West Bank in 2022, according to the Palestinian health ministry. 

2022 has been the deadliest for Palestinian deaths based on the monthly average of deaths, which is the highest since the UN began recording fatalities in 2005.

A further 49 Palestinians were killed during an Israeli bombardment of Gaza in August.

Meanwhile, 29 Israelis, including soldiers, have been killed by Palestinians in the same period, the highest number since 2008.

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