Israeli army kills Palestinian in West Bank

Date: 09-22-05

JENIN, West Bank (Reuters) - Israeli soldiers on Thursday shot dead an unarmed Palestinian after he entered an army base being dismantled in the northern West Bank where four Jewish settlements were evacuated last month.

The deadly incident, the first of its kind since Israel completed its troop withdrawal from Gaza on September 12, drew a Hamas vow of continued "resistance" against the Jewish state.

The shooting occurred in a part of the occupied West Bank where Israel evacuated and demolished four settlements last month as part of what Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has billed as "disengagement" from conflict with the Palestinians.

The Israeli army said troops shot the Palestinian at the Dotan military base after he failed to heed orders to stop and because they thought he might be a suicide bomber, a fear that proved unfounded.

Palestinian witnesses and security sources said the man was hit in the chest after heading into the base to scavenge for scrap metal. He was pronounced dead at a hospital in the Palestinian-ruled town of Jenin, medics said.

An Israeli military commander said troops had deployed heavily around the camp after repeated attempts by Palestinians to infiltrate since troops began dismantling the base following the removal of settlements in the area.

Troops fired warning shots into the air when they spotted half a dozen young men penetrating the camp in an area where watchposts had been taken down, Lt.-Col. Shmulik Kalmi said.

"The Palestinians broke into two groups and ran into the camp. We feared they could be terrorists with explosive belts and fired at their legs," he said.

One of the Palestinians who had crouched down was hit, Kalmi said. He said troops chased away 500 Palestinians from the gates of the base on Wednesday, and others later penetrated a building and torched part of the camp's fence.

Israel also dismantled all 21 of its settlements in the Gaza Strip, but still has about 120 more enclaves in the West Bank.

Israel will retain security control in the area, unlike the Gaza Strip where it ended 38 years of military rule last week.

Hamas, an Islamist group dedicated to Israel's destruction but largely abiding by a seven-month-old cease-fire, responded by vowing "continuation of resistance to protect our people."

(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan in Jerusalem)



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