An Israeli soldier has been killed in a shoot-out in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, Israeli police and army said.

The incident took place on Sunday close to the volatile Cave of the Patriarchs, which is considered holy to both Jews and Muslims.

"An Israel Defence Forces (IDF) soldier was killed from gunfire fired this evening at an army force in Hebron," a statement from the military read.

"The soldier was taken to a hospital in an intensive care unit where he died of his wounds."

"Shots were fired near the Machpela Cave," police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said, using the Hebrew name for the holy site also known as the Tomb of Abraham, long a flashpoint between the two communities.

Soon after the gunfire troops locked down Hebron with roadblocks in the hunt for the gunman, eyewitnesses said, noting that the soldiers had fanned out through the Israeli-controlled H2 sector.

Shortly before the shooting, witnesses said there were clashes in the city centre between stone-throwers and Israeli forces, with one Palestinian wounded by rubber bullets.

Hebron was packed with thousands of Israeli visitors on Sunday, many of whom had made the trip as part of the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles.

Another killing

The shooting came a day after Israeli troops found the body of another soldier near the northern West Bank town of Qalqilya.

The soldier had been lured to a village in the West Bank on Friday morning and killed by a Palestinian man with whom he had worked in the seaside town of Bat Yam, south of Tel Aviv.

He was buried on Sunday in a military cemetery in the town of Holon.

Hebron has always remained a hotbed of tensions where some 500 Jewish settler families live among 100,000 Palestinians.

Violence has been rising in recent weeks in the West Bank, a territory that Israel captured in a 1967 war which Palestinians seek for a state, despite a recent resumption of stalled US-sponsored peace talks.

Source: Agencies