BIRZEIT, West Bank, Feb 27 (Reuters & JMCC) - Israeli forces opened
fire and killed a Palestinian they were seeking to arrest in the
occupied West Bank town of Birzeit on Thursday, after the man had barricaded
himself inside his house, Reuters witnesses said.
Israeli soldiers and police surrounded the home of Muataz
Washaha, 24, and called on him to turn himself in. Although his
relatives came out of the house, he refused to leave.
After several hours of standoff, the Israeli forces knocked
down part of the building with a bulldozer and opened fire.
Washaha's body was found shortly afterwards.
An Israeli military statement said that Washaha had been
wanted for suspected terror activity and that the forces,
which later found an assault rifle in the house, were operating
under the premise that he was armed.
Two other suspects were arrested at the scene.
A Reuters witness said that no shots were heard from inside
the home before the Israeli forces opened fire. Palestinian
sources said Washaha was affiliated to a small leftist faction,
the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
The Palestinian government in the West Bank condemned the
killing. The assassination of martyr Washaha represents a new
violation of human rights. Occupation forces deliberately killed
martyr Washaha, it said in a statement.
Amnesty International published a report on Thursday which
said Israeli forces were using excessive violence in the West
Bank, killing dozens of Palestinians over the past three years
in what, they said, might constitute a war crime.
The Israeli army dismissed the allegations, saying security
forces had seen a substantial increase in Palestinian violence
and that Amnesty had revealed a complete lack of understanding
about the difficulties soldiers faced.
Although their decades-old conflict has become a
low-intensity confrontation, violence still flares regularly,
with Palestinians accounting for the vast majority of
Israel and the Palestinians resumed direct peace talks in
July after a three year break. The Palestinians seek an
independent state in the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the West
Bank, territories Israel captured in the 1967 war.
(Reporting by Ali Sawafta; Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by