Palestinians say man killed by Israeli troops after march marking 1948 ‘Nakba’

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Palestinian officials said Israeli troops killed a man on Wednesday as clashes broke out after a West Bank march commemorating the mass displacement of Palestinians in the “Nakba” of 1948.

“A young man was killed by occupation bullets at the northern entrance of the city of Al-Bireh,” an Israeli checkpoint at the outskirts of Ramallah, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The Israeli army did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The official Palestinian news agency Wafa said the man killed was 20-year-old Ayser Muhammad Safi, a student at Birzeit University, reporting that he was shot in the neck during a confrontation between a group of young men and Israeli forces.

Witnesses on site told AFP they had seen a group of male students from Birzeit University gather a short distance from the Al-Bireh entrance, where they were preparing to begin protesting when Israeli troops moved in.

During the confrontation, Israeli forces fired some kind of gas and sound grenades at the protesters, Wafa reported.

After the confrontation, AFP saw the body of a young man, his head in bloody bandages and his body wrapped in a blue sheet, being carried from a Ramallah hospital to the nearby morgue, as dozens of people crowded around.

Amid chants of “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest), many women in tears screamed out as his body passed by, and one young woman fainted.

Birzeit University released a picture of the young man against the backdrop of a Palestinian flag and a message saying his family, the university administration, staff and students “mourn with great pride and honor its martyr” Safi, a student at the physical education department.

Thousands march

Wednesday’s clash happened shortly after the annual march in Ramallah commemorating the 76th anniversary of what Palestinians consider the “Nakba”, or catastrophe, when around 760,000 Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes during the war that led to Israel’s creation.

Thousands marched across the West Bank, keffiyeh scarves draped proudly across their shoulders.

The commemoration came against the backdrop of the war raging in Gaza, which has displaced most of the population of the Palestinian territory.

The war erupted after Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack inside Israel, which killed more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

The militants also seized around 250 hostages, 128 of whom Israel estimates remain in Gaza, including 36 it says are dead.

Israel’s relentless bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza have since killed at least 35,233 people, mostly civilians, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Israel has also carried out near daily raids in the West Bank in what it says is a bid to thwart militant groups.

At least 499 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the territory since October 7, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah.

And at least 20 Israelis have meanwhile been killed in Palestinian attacks over the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

The West Bank, occupied by Israel since 1967, is home to about 490,000 Israeli settlers who live in communities considered illegal under international law.

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