MEVO BEITAR, Israel, (Reuters) – Troops shot dead a Palestinian motorist in Israel on Tuesday, saying he failed to stop at a border checkpoint coming from the West Bank and later drove at soldiers seeking to detain him at a fuel station.
The killing came hours before U.S. President Barack Obama was to convene a first meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a bid to revive peace talks suspended before Netanyahu’s election.
Each side blames the other for a failure to ease disputes.
No weapons were found in the man’s car, the army said in a statement. There was no report of him carrying passengers. No independent account of the incident was immediately available.
Palestinians who said they knew the dead man identified him as Rabia Tawil, 25, from East Jerusalem, some 10 km (miles) from the incident near the rural community of Mevo Beitar.
Acquaintances said Tawil earned a living driving Palestinian workers to jobs inside Israel, though most workers were off on Tuesday for the Eid holiday. East Jerusalem residents, unlike Palestinians in the West Bank, can drive their cars into Israel. “The driver ignored required security checks and accelerated away from the checkpoint,” an army spokeswoman said. “Troops gave chase and stopped him at a nearby petrol station where he attempted to run them over and where he was shot.”
Reuters journalists saw a recent-model saloon car sitting on rough ground near the fuel station, having apparently run off the road. Most of its windows were shot out. Some 20 cartridge cases had been marked by investigators on the garage forecourt.
One soldier was treated at the scene for a slight injury, an Israeli ambulance worker said.