NABLUS, West Bank (AFP) – A Palestinian stabbed a nine-year-old boy and burned down a house after sneaking into a West Bank settlement early on Saturday, Israeli and Palestinian security officials said.
The boy was taken to hospital after being lightly wounded in the attack, which took place at around 8:00 am (0500 GMT) in the Yitzhar settlement, an Israeli army spokesman said.
Israeli troops launched a manhunt between Yitzhar and the West Bank town of Nablus, placing three Palestinian villages under tight curfew, Palestinian security officials said.
The army tried to prevent settlers from Yitzhar — a bastion of extreme right-wing Jews — from entering the villages, but hours after the attack a group of settlers arrived and clashed with Palestinians, villagers said.
Witnesses said the army arrived on the scene and opened fire, wounding three Palestinians. Medics in Nablus said they were treating the three men for gunshot wounds and that one was seriously wounded.
The army spokesman said there had been “some sort of gathering or demonstration by Israeli civilians,” but that he was not aware of shots being fired.
Hundreds of members of the Palestinian security forces were deployed in Nablus in November last year at the start of a security plan intended to underpin US-backed peace talks relaunched the same month.
The plan has largely succeeded in reining in violence and organised crime in the city, but Israeli officials say the security forces have done little to combat Palestinian militant groups.
The Palestinians have meanwhile accused Israel of undermining the plan by carrying out regular nightly incursions of its own and preventing Palestinian security forces from operating in certain areas.