The Palestinian Health Ministry says two men were shot while driving near the entrance to the city. One, identified as Ahmed Jamal Mahmoud or Ahmed Jamal Manasra, 26, of the West Bank, was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the Beit Jala Hospital.
In a statement, the IDF said, "The incident began Wednesday night at the Efrat junction at the southern end of Bethlehem when an IDF soldier identified a suspect who threw stones at vehicles in the area," according to the Jerusalem Post. IDF soldiers attempted to arrest the suspect, but opened fire when the suspect or suspects didn't comply, the force claims. The IDF is apparently investigating the possibility that Manasra was throwing stones indiscriminately at cars on the road, not targeting Israeli or IDF vehicles.
Manasra's family calls the allegation that he was throwing rocks ridiculous and that there was no reason for the IDF to open fire. "All the testimonies and circumstances attest that Ahmed was murdered in cold blood," Haaretz quoted an unnamed relative as saying.
Manasra's family says instead that the slain man was simply trying to help relatives after they were involved in a road accident, Haaretz reports. Palestinian News Network (PNN), citing eyewitnesses, says IDF soldiers stationed in a military tower on Bethlehem's edge, near al-Khader village, shot at a vehicle carrying a Palestinian family, wounding the driver. Manasra, driving behind, got out of his car to take the wounded man to the hospital, where he remains in critical condition. When Manasra went back to aid the man's wife and children, he was shot dead by soldiers, they said.
Manasra is the fourth Palestinian killed by IDF forces this week: on Tuesday, three young Palestinian men were killed in two separate incidents. Two were shot after throwing Molotov cocktails at soldiers in Nablus; the third, 19, was alleged to have shot and killed an IDF soldier and a settler earlier in March, and was killed in a shootout, according to Palestinian Chronicle. Their deaths had prompted Palestinian groups in the West Bank to call for a "day of rage" on Friday; after Manasra was killed Wednesday night, a general strike was called in Bethlehem.