JERUSALEM — A 21-year-old Israeli soldier was killed early Tuesday when he was struck in the top by a heavy rock as his unit was finishing a nighttime arrest mission in a Palestinian village close to Jenin, in the northern West Bank, the military mentioned.

It was the primary fatality for the Israeli army this yr, and it got here as the area is bracing for a doable uptick in violence in response to an Israeli push to annex land in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinians have lengthy counted on for a future state.

Staff Sgt. Amit Ben Ygal, of Ramat Gan, was on what the military described as a routine operation that resulted in the arrest of 4 Palestinians in Yaabed, west of Jenin, together with some suspected of throwing stones at passing Israeli motorists, when he was hit by a rock thrown from a home on the outskirts of the village, the military mentioned.

He was sporting a helmet, but it surely didn’t save him.

A manhunt was underway for his killer on Tuesday, and the official Palestinian information company, Wafa, reported that Israeli forces had been raiding properties in Yaabed and had arrested seven further individuals by round midday.

“We have a good assessment of who it is, and it’s just a matter of time before they will be apprehended,” mentioned a military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.

Colonel Conricus described Yaabed as “a known hot spot of terrorists and sympathizers and supporters of terrorist activity — and lots of stone throwing.” Palestinian officers mentioned militants representing Fatah, which controls the West Bank, and Hamas, its rival, claimed supporters in the realm.

On a Facebook Live video at noon, Israeli forces may very well be seen detaining a girl and firing a big spherical of tear gasoline towards residents and journalists.

Saed Zaid Kilani, the mayor of Yaabed, mentioned that through the manhunt Tuesday morning, a village sanitation employee amassing rubbish had been shot with rubber bullets, as had been two different villagers.

Mr. Kilani mentioned Israeli forces had been in Yaabed, a city of about 20,000, repeatedly over the previous week and had clashed with residents every time, firing tear gasoline and rubber bullets.

The Israeli army didn’t present particulars about why the 4 Palestinians had been arrested however described the mission as the form of operation that’s performed by safety forces virtually each evening.

Kamel Abu Shamleh, a member of the village’s municipal council, mentioned two of his sons had been taken away after his house was raided by about 10 troopers at 4 a.m., as his household was consuming its Ramadan predawn meal earlier than fasting for the day. He mentioned it was the primary time they’d been arrested and that the troopers didn’t give a cause.

Mr. Abu Shamleh mentioned he had referred to as the Red Cross and one other humanitarian group out of concern that his sons could be harmed whereas in Israeli custody in reprisal for Sergeant Ben Ygal’s killing.

The killing of Sergeant Ben Ygal appeared to stoke tensions, at a minimal. A grisly video exhibiting a path of blood main from the spot the place he was struck was shared 1000’s of occasions on Palestinian social media Tuesday morning.

In Gaza, Hamas praised the killing, and Ibrahim al-Madhoun, an analyst near the militant group, wrote on Twitter and Telegram, “The annexation policy in the West Bank will be confronted by intense resistance — rock, knife, gun, explosion.”

Israel has not misplaced a soldier in the West Bank since August, when a 19-year-old pupil who had technically enlisted however was nonetheless finding out in a yeshiva was stabbed to death near his school. The last combat soldier killed, in March 2019, was guarding a hitchhiking station near the settlement city of Ariel.

Tuesday’s killing was reminiscent of that of Ronen Lubarsky, a soldier in an elite fight unit who was struck in the top and fatally wounded by a heavy slab that broke his helmet in May 2018 in the Amari refugee camp close to Ramallah.

In a wrenching radio interview Tuesday morning, Sergeant Ben Ygal’s father, Baruch, recalled how his son, phoning house from a highschool journey to focus camps in Poland that may be a ceremony of passage for Israeli kids, had pleaded for permission to enlist as a fight soldier.

“I said to him, ‘Amit, my precious, you’re my only son, understand the significance.’ He said, ‘Dad, we have no other country. We have no other country.’”

Mr. Ben Ygal added: “I’m broken and shattered now.”

Mohammed Najib contributed reporting from Ramallah, West Bank, and Adam Rasgon from Tel Aviv.

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