Orthodox Jews mourn at the funeral of Ben-Yosef Livnat, who was shot dead by Palestinian police who fired on Israeli pilgrims.
ISRAELI Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded that the Palestinian Authority take ”harsh steps” against those responsible for the shooting death of the nephew of a minister of his Likud Party in the occupied West Bank at the weekend.
Palestinian police shot and killed Ben-Yosef Livnat, 24, and wounded four others early on Sunday after the Israelis surreptitiously visited a Jewish holy site inside a Palestinian-controlled area, officials on both sides said.
The shooting occurred outside Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus after three carloads of religious Israeli Jews visited the site to pray, without co-ordinating their move through the Israeli army.
An army spokeswoman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a preliminary investigation found that the Israelis had refused to stop at a Palestinian checkpoint at an entrance to the tomb. Some Palestinian reports said the settlers – about 15 people in three cars – were armed.
Mr Livnat was a nephew of Limor Livnat, the Israeli Minister of Culture and Sport. At Mr Livnat’s grave site on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, his aunt called it ”cold-blooded murder”.
Mr Livnat grew up on a settlement near Nablus, where his parents still live. During the funeral procession from the settlement to the Mount of Olives, dozens of masked Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians at random, smashing their cars and injuring a boy.
Adnan Damiri, spokesman for Palestinian security forces, said armed settlers frequently come to the tomb without permission, sometimes fighting with local Palestinians. He faulted Israel’s military for not stopping the convoy at a nearby Israeli checkpoint.
An Israeli military spokesman said Israeli and Palestinian officials were continuing their inquiries. He said that on Jewish holidays – Passover ends this week – it was not uncommon for devout Jews to sneak into holy sites in areas under Palestinian Authority control. If caught, they were nearly always handed over to Israel without violence.
NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCIES