Israelis kill man carrying bottle

ISRAELI troops shot dead a Palestinian carrying a bottle at a checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus late yesterday, less than 48 hours after a female protester died after being teargassed.

Palestinian officials condemned the two deaths, calling them part of a “dangerous escalation” by Israel.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said Mohammed Daraghmeh, in his early 20s, was killed at about 8am (5pm AEDT) at the Hamra checkpoint, northeast of Nablus.

Initial media reports said Mr Daraghmeh had tried to stab soldiers at the checkpoint — a claim denied by Palestinian sources.

The Israeli military confirmed that Mr Daraghmeh was not armed with a knife but said he entered an unauthorised lane in the checkpoint and was believed to have been holding a bottle. “He was holding a glass bottle and the soldiers were probably scared he was going to try to stab them,” a military spokeswoman said.

She could not confirm whether the bottle was broken, or if Mr Daraghmeh had explicitly threatened the soldiers.

“He approached them, he was standing a few metres from them,” she said. “They asked him to stop, he didn’t answer.”

The incident was under investigation, she said. Mr Daraghmeh, from Tubas, north of Nablus, died at the checkpoint after suffering bullet wounds to his chest, hand and leg, sources at the town’s hospital said.

Palestinian security sources said Mr Daraghmeh was trying to pass through the checkpoint on his way to work at a West Bank settlement and got into an altercation with troops when they refused him passage.

No soldiers were wounded in the incident, and the checkpoint was closed afterwards.

Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, condemned Mr Daraghmeh’s death. “The Israeli escalation in the last two days is aimed at demolishing any hope of a peace process, and we ask the US administration and the international community to take necessary steps to stop the dangerous escalation against the area,” he said.

Michelle Bubis, a spokeswoman for Israeli human rights group B’tselem, said the details of the incident were still unclear. “B’tselem demands a military police investigation and is itself checking into the incident,” she said.

On Saturday evening, a Palestinian man was arrested by troops in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of Bethlehem after reportedly trying to stab two female soldiers. The military said no one was wounded in that incident.

Sunday’s incident came less than 48 hours after the death of Jawaher Abu Rahma, a 36-year-old Palestinian woman who died after inhaling massive amounts of teargas fired by the military at a West Bank demonstration.

Abu Rahma died in hospital overnight on Friday in Ramallah after collapsing during a protest against the separation barrier in the nearby village of Bilin, hospital staff said.

The Israeli army said that an investigation has been opened to determine the cause of death.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat on Saturday condemned Ms Abu Rahma’s death as an “Israeli war crime”.

Doctors say the gas can kill on rare occasions if a victim has a pre-existing condition.

A relative, Mohammed Abu Rahmeh, said Ms Abu Rahma had suffered from asthma since she was a child. However, her parents said she was healthy and did not have asthma.

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