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Israeli wounded in occupied West Bank shooting

Wounded Israelis and soldiers returned fire, wounding the Palestinian gunman, who was arrested, the Israeli army says.

Israel’s Ambulance and Rescue Service said a 30-year-old man was injured when the vehicle he was traveling in came under fire in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Sunday.

The Israeli army said it had received a report of a “shooting incident” in Huwara, a town that has been the focus of Israeli military raids and a settler frenzy in recent weeks.

Israeli medics said a man was shot in the upper body and seriously injured, while his wife was slightly injured.

The Israeli army said soldiers or one of the wounded shot the suspected Palestinian gunman, who was then arrested by Israeli forces. His condition was not immediately clear.

The shooting came as Israeli and Palestinian officials held talks in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to restore calm following a spate of deadly violence in the West Bank and ahead of a sensitive holiday season starting this week.

Last month, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli settlers driving through Huwara. This was followed by a rampage by Israeli settlers who killed a Palestinian man and set fire to dozens of houses and cars.

Far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich also said Huwara should be “wiped out”, in remarks that were widely condemned.

The Israeli-occupied West Bank has seen a flurry of confrontations in recent months, with near-daily military raids and escalating settler violence.

Violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians has reached its highest level since 2006, the United Nations told Al Jazeera.

In 2023, an average of three violent incidents per day will be registered, compared to two incidents per day in 2022 and one incident per day in 2021.

Sunday’s meeting is the second attempt by the parties, backed by regional allies Egypt and Jordan and the United States, to end a years-long outbreak of violence in which more than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire and more than 40 Israelis and three Ukrainians killed in Palestinian attacks.

Over the past year, Israeli forces have also made thousands of arrests in the West Bank.

The continued deadly military incursions have raised questions about the prospects of holding meetings between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which rules limited parts of the West Bank.

The previous meeting in Jordan late last month ended with an agreement to de-escalate tensions. It was quickly derailed by several new outbreaks of violence, including an Israeli raid on Nablus that killed 11 Palestinians, leaving expectations low for the second installment.

Sunday’s shooting further lowered those expectations. Still, mediators want to ease tensions ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is expected to begin this week and coincide with the Jewish holiday of Passover next month.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no mention of the summit at his weekly cabinet meeting.

Palestinian official Hussein al-Sheikh tweeted Saturday that the meeting was to “demand an end to this ongoing Israeli aggression against us.”