Israeli troops shoot Palestinian man in West Bank ahead of Blinken visit

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Israeli troops killed a Palestinian man on Monday, Palestinian officials said, hours before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives on a visit dominated by a deadly shooting near a Jerusalem synagogue and growing violence in the West Bank.

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The Palestinian health ministry said 26-year-old Nassim Nayef Salman Abu Fouda was shot in the head by soldiers in Hebrown, a southern city in the occupied West Bank, early in the morning. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli army.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA said he was shot by troops in his car at a checkpoint.

Israel is on high alert after a Palestinian opened fire in a street outside a synagogue on Friday, killing seven people in the worst such attack in the Jerusalem area for over a decade.

Recent violence, which also saw the deadliest Israeli raid in the West Bank in years, has overshadowed the visit by Blinken, who was due to land in Tel Aviv just after 2 p.m. (1200 GMT) and meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Blinken sees Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday.

So far this month, at least 35 Palestinians, both gunmen and civilians, have been killed in near-daily West Bank raids by the army - 10 of them in clashes on Thursday in Jenin refugee camp.

According to the Palestinian health ministry, January has been the bloodiest month in the West Bank since 2015.

With little immediate hope of a renewal of talks towards a political settlement of the decades-long dispute, the latest violence has added to gloom over prospects for peace, although Washington has reaffirmed support for a two-state solution.

US President Joe Biden has repeated his support for Israel’s security but Washington has also said there was an urgent need by all sides to de-escalate the conflict.

However containing the violence has been complicated by the actions of so-called “lone wolves” like the 21-year-old who carried out Friday’s attack and apparently had no connection with Palestinian militant groups.

Palestinian officials said Israeli settlers had set fire on Monday to two cars near the northern West Bank city of Nablus and thrown stones at a house near Ramallah, following a similar attack on Sunday.

Such incidents occur regularly without attracting much notice. But in the current climate, they have added to the potential for the violence to worsen.

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