Palestinians: Israeli forces kill man in West Bank clashes

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — The Palestinian Health Ministry says Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man Saturday evening during clashes in the occupied West Bank.

Also Saturday evening, Israeli aircraft struck several militant sites in the Gaza Strip in response to incendiary balloons Palestinians launched from the territory to Israeli farmland across the frontier, the military said. Local media reports said a Palestinian man was seriously wounded in the airstrikes.

The ministry identified the slain man as Mohammad Fareed Hassan, 20, from Qusra village near Nablus city.

The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, reported that Hassan was shot in the chest as residents confronted settlers who stormed the village from a nearby settlement. It said Israeli troops accompanied the settlers.

Palestinians have been holding weekly protests against the expansion of Israeli settlements at several locations of the West Bank.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, and the Palestinians want it to form the main part of their future state.

Nearly 500,000 Israelis live in more than 130 authorized settlements and dozens of outposts across the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinians and much of the international community view all settlements as a violation of international law and an obstacle to peace.

In Gaza, the Israeli military said the airstrikes targeted a weapons manufacturing site and a rocket launcher belonging to Hamas, the militant group ruling the Palestinian enclave. Hamas and Israel have fought four deadly wars since the Islamic militant group seized Gaza in 2007, the last of them for 11 days in May.

Hamas-linked activists have been launching the incendiary balloons to pressure Israel into easing its blockade on the territory. Hamas says Israel has withdrawn from previous unofficial understandings to allow Qatari cash aid into impoverished Gaza and has reinstated restrictions at Gaza’s commercial crossings.

Egyptian, Qatari and United Nations mediators have been working to shore up the fragile cease-fire.

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