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Israeli troops kill two Palestinians amid West Bank violence

Israeli troops blow up the house of a Palestinian militant (Majdi Mohammed/AP)
Israeli troops blow up the house of a Palestinian militant (Majdi Mohammed/AP)

Israeli forces have shot and killed two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank during what the army described as violent confrontations.

They are among four Palestinians who have been killed in the last two days at a time of heightened Middle East tensions.

The Israeli military said forces operating in the Dheisheh refugee camp in the West Bank city of Bethlehem opened fire after being pelted with rocks and makeshift bombs.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said Ayman Mheisen, 29, was killed.

House demolition
Palestinians inspect the damage to the house of Palestinian militant Diaa Hamarsheh that was demolished by Israeli troops in the West Bank village of Yabed (AP)

The health ministry later said a teenager was shot by Israeli troops near the separation barrier west of the city of Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority is headquartered. The Wafa news agency, run by the Palestinian Authority, identified the deceased as Auda Sadaqa, 17.

The Israeli military said three suspects hurled a firebomb at forces operating near the barrier, who responded with live fire. No soldiers were wounded.

Late on Wednesday, Israeli forces entered the village of Yabed, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, to destroy the family home of a slain Palestinian attacker who had gunned down five people in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak in March.

The military said Palestinians attacked the soldiers with stones and firebombs, and that the troops exchanged gunfire with Palestinian militants. The Palestinian Health Ministry said Bilal Kabaha, 24, was killed. The Islamic militant group Hamas said he was one of its fighters.

Demolished house
Hamarsheh was shot and killed by Israeli police after he killed three Israelis and two Ukrainian citizens in a deadly shooting attack in Bnei Brak (AP)

Video released by the Israeli military showed soldiers preparing the house for demolition and an explosion ripping through the three-floor building and lighting up the night sky.

Israel routinely demolishes the homes of killed or captured Palestinian militants, saying it serves as a deterrent, despite an internal army report from 2004 that questioned its effectiveness. The Palestinians and rights groups say it amounts to collective punishment.

The Israeli rights group HaMoked said the attacker’s parents and grandmother, as well as a brother who is a minor, were living in the home. It filed a petition against the demolition that was rejected by Israel’s Supreme Court.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli troops in the southern West Bank killed a Palestinian woman who they say approached them with a knife.

House demolition
Israeli officials say the demolitions deter future attacks, while rights groups view it as a form of collective punishment (AP)

The West Bank is home to nearly three million Palestinians and has been under military rule since Israel captured the territory in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians want the West Bank to form the main part of their future state. The peace process collapsed more than a decade ago.

In recent months, Palestinians have carried out a wave of attacks against Israelis that have left 19 people dead. The military has launched near-daily operations across the West Bank that it says are aimed at breaking up militant networks to prevent more attacks.

Clashes at a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem and the killing of a well-known Palestinian-American journalist have further heightened tensions.

The Palestinians and witnesses say Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli fire, while Israel says it is not clear if soldiers or Palestinian gunmen fired the deadly bullet.

The Palestinian Health Ministry says 63 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the start of the year. It does not differentiate between civilians, militants and those who were killed after carrying out deadly attacks.

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