Palestinian killed by IDF fire after throwing stones

Coronavirus crisis sees drop in attacks and unprecedented cooperation between IDF and Palestinian Authority forces.

Israeli car hit by stones thrown by Palestinians, March 23, 2020 (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
Israeli car hit by stones thrown by Palestinians, March 23, 2020
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
A Palestinian man was killed and another was wounded by IDF fire late Sunday in the West Bank after they threw large stones at Israeli cars.
The incident occurred at the Ni’lin junction south of Kalkilya, the army said in a statement, after “IDF troops spotted a number of suspects hurling rocks at Israeli vehicles driving on the highway.”
Soldiers fired toward the suspects after they hurled a rock and were preparing to hurl additional rocks, hitting and killing one of them. The other suspect was wounded and escaped from the scene, the IDF said.
The PA Health Ministry identified the deceased as Sufian al-Khawaja, 29, from Ni’lin. The other suspect has not been identified.
Pictures from the scene that were shared on social media showed a vehicle’s windshield smashed by a large rock and Khawaja’s body on a stretcher being carried by soldiers. There were no other reports of casualties.
Although there are regular clashes between soldiers and Palestinians in the West Bank, they have dropped considerably since the coronavirus outbreak, and there has been unprecedented cooperation between the IDF and PA forces.
Both sides have imposed closures and limited movement by civilians in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. On Saturday, Israeli authorities announced they would close the crossings with the West Bank and Gaza to commercial traffic but would allow some patients and humanitarian staff to cross.
A senior IDF officer told The Jerusalem Post the virus would not have an impact on military operations such as thwarting terrorist attacks.
“If someone decides that they want to take this opportunity to attack us, then we are ready,” he said in an interview next to the Hashmonaim checkpoint located outside Modi’in Illit. “Our most important mission is to protect the country and its citizens.”
According to the senior officer, where there is interaction between soldiers and Palestinians, such as at crossings or during military operations, troops will be given gloves and masks to help prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus.
In the pictures shared Sunday night, troops were seen wearing medical gloves.
On Monday morning, Army Radio announced the military was considering postponing the demolition of terrorist homes in the West Bank amid the coronavirus outbreak to avoid confrontations with Palestinians.
In the West Bank, 59 people have been confirmed to have the virus, and another two were diagnosed in the Gaza Strip after returning from Pakistan.
The incident on Sunday night came as the PA began implementing a mandatory quarantine on PA-controlled areas to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Local residents were prohibited from leaving their homes as of 10 p.m. on Sunday for two weeks.