Israeli military forces have shot and injured two Palestinian men in the northern part of the West Bank as tensions simmer in the occupied Palestinian territories ahead of the Israeli regime’s controversial plan to annex parts of the West Bank in defiance of international opposition.
The Israeli military claimed in a statement that the two Palestinians, whose identities were not immediately available, tried to stab a group of soldiers operating outside the Havat Amichai outpost near the Shiloh settlement, located 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of Jerusalem al-Quds, on Monday.
The statement added that the soldiers then opened fire on the pair although no troops were injured in the purported incident.
“From what we understand, they were injured and took themselves to a hospital in Ramallah,” an unnamed Israeli army spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, locals denied the army’s allegations that the incident was an attempted stabbing.
Nidal Rabi, a resident of the nearby Palestinian town of Turmus Ayya, said he had been at the scene both before and immediately after the event took place, and that the two men were brothers and farmers from the nearby al-Mughayyir village.
They had been working on their wheat fields along with several other relatives when a group of settlers arrived at the scene accompanied by soldiers and ordered them to leave, Rabi said.
“One of the farmers had a sickle in his hand, but he did not attack the soldiers,” he noted, adding, “Nonetheless, he was shot in the stomach and the other farmer was shot in the leg.”
Rabi highlighted that the incident took place in Area B, which is under the Palestinian civilian control according to the Oslo Accords, and that settlers should not have been allowed to operate there.
A local activist, identified as Kathem Haj Mohammad, also told Palestine's official WAFA news agency that the two were rushed to Palestine Medical Complex in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah for treatment.
Israeli soldiers fired teargas canisters at the villagers, who came to the aid of the injured shepherds, Mohammad noted.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was sworn into office for another term on May 17, has set July 1 for the start of cabinet discussions on extending Israeli sovereignty over settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.
In response to Israel’s decision, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared the end of all agreements signed with Israel and the United States on May 19, after the new Israeli coalition cabinet announced it would proceed with its annexation plans.