Ma'an News Agency
July 22, 2010 - 12:00am

A Palestinian man was killed and a second injured by Israeli gunfire in the occupied West Bank on Thursday morning, Palestinian security officials said.

They told Ma’an that an Israeli force opened fire on the two at 4:30 a.m. at the entrance of the illegal Barqan settlement in the Salfit district, killing one man while the second was injured.

The body of the unidentified fatality was removed by Israeli officials, who sources said initially refused to hand him over because they had been unable to identify him. Sources later told Ma'an that the body was transferred to the Abu Kbeer Morgue in Jerusalem order to identify him.

An Israeli military statement said guards believed the men were armed infiltrators when they opened fire, but did not indicate how many were involved and could not confirm whether the men had weapons.

According to the army, Israeli Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai contacted Palestinian security officials and "called them to conduct a joint investigation into the incident," saying the invitation was accepted and Palestinian officials were on site reviewing the details of the cast. In what the military said was an attempt to avert tension in the area, "messages were delievered to senior Palestinian officials."

Nevertheless, the Palestinian Authority condemned the killing. Israel must hold its soldiers accountable for the "illegal and unjustified" attack, said Ghassan Khatib, a spokesman for the PA. “The Israeli practice of shooting first and asking questions later has become the norm,” Khatib said in a statement.

The Israeli news site Ynet quoted military officials saying a guard unit stationed outside the settlement spotted the men near the entrance and believed they were in the area with the intent to steal from its residents.

The news site said soldiers warned the men to stop, after one soldier said he thought he saw a weapon, and then fired. The same report noted that "an initial search of the scene revealed no weapon."


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