Israeli soldier killed by rock thrown during raid in occupied West Bank - army

Jerusalem – An Israeli soldier was killed by a rock hurled by a Palestinian during a raid in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, an army spokesperson said.

A military statement said the 21-year-old soldier was hit in the head "during operational activity" in the village of Yaabad near the northern city of Jenin.

Palestinian security sources said that clashes erupted overnight when Israeli forces raided the village.

Army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said troops had entered to round up Palestinian suspects.

"Yaabad is a known hotspot of terrorists and sympathisers and supporters of terrorist activities," he said.

The forces were leaving the village when the rock was thrown, striking the soldier on the head, he said, adding that troops were searching for the perpetrator.

"Combat activities are going on," he said.

Conricus said it was the first death of a soldier in combat this year.

The circumstances echoed the May 2018 killing of a special forces sergeant during an arrest operation in Al-Amari Palestinian refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Pompeo visit

In that incident the soldier was killed by a stone block dropped on his head from a building.

The attacker was convicted by an Israeli military court and given a life sentence.

The latest death came ahead of a visit to Israel on Wednesday by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pompeo said his talks in Jerusalem would include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to annex much of the occupied West Bank, despite warnings from the Palestinians that the move will kill any prospect of lasting peace.

In an interview published on Tuesday in pro-Netanyahu newspaper Israel Hayom, Pompeo was quoted as saying that annexation plans would be discussed in his Jerusalem talks but ultimately implementation would be an Israeli decision.

"We will share our opinions in the best way possible," Pompeo told the paper.

"We've made clear what we believe meets the requirements of international law. We've made clear that Israel can make its legal decisions."

In January, US President Donald Trump published a controversial plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that gives US blessing to Israel's annexation of large swathes of the occupied West Bank, even though the United Nations warns it would be a violation of international law.

Israel has controlled the West Bank since seizing it in the Six-Day War of 1967, with nearly three million Palestinian residents living alongside roughly 400 000 Israelis residing in settlements considered illegal under international law.

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