Three Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in occupied West Bank

Israeli army kills Palestinian suspected of killing two Israelis on Sunday, and two more near West Bank city of Nablus.

    Israeli soldiers guard the scene of Sunday's attack near the illegal Jewish settlement of Ariel [Ammar Awad/Reuters]
    Israeli soldiers guard the scene of Sunday's attack near the illegal Jewish settlement of Ariel [Ammar Awad/Reuters]

    Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in two separate incidents on Tuesday night, Palestinian health ministry and emergency services said.

    Omar Abu Leila, 19, was suspected of carrying out a deadly stabbing-and-shooting attack in the occupied West Bank two days earlier.

    Abu Leila, who was on the run, was found in a house in the village of Abwein, north of Ramallah. He was killed after he opened fire at Israeli forces who had come to arrest him, the Israeli Shin Bet security service said. The Palestinian health ministry confirmed a person had been killed in the clash, but provided no further details.

    Protests in the village then broke out between Palestinian youth and the army. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, nine men were injured, including two with live ammunition. 

    In a separate incident, the Palestinian health ministry said two more Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.

    Raed Hamdan, 21, and Zaid Nouri, 20, died after being shot late Tuesday by Israeli troops near the Joseph Tomb's religious site close to the Palestinian city of Nablus, it said.

    According to the spokesperson for the Red Crescent, Ahmad Jibril, Israeli forces prevented emergency services from reaching the site, and fired on an ambulance. 

    The Israeli army said in a statement explosives were hurled from a vehicle as Jewish worshippers visited the site late on Tuesday and "troops responded with live fire towards the vehicle".

    The bodies of Hamdan and Nouri were detained by Israeli forces overnight before they were handed over to the Palestinian Authority coordination body in the morning.

    Joseph's Tomb has long been a source of tension in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. According to Palestinian security sources, more than 1,000 Jewish settlers were bused to the site, under heavy Israeli army protection.

    Fatal stabbing

    On Sunday, Abu Leila from the West Bank town town of az-Zawiya, fatally stabbed a soldier at an intersection on a busy West Bank highway outside the illegal settlement of Ariel and opened fire at the scene using the conscript's rifle, killing an Israeli rabbi and wounding a second soldier.

    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the site of the attack on Monday and pledged tough action, including the demolition of the assailant's home. "These terrorists will not uproot us from here," he said.

    International rights groups have long criticised Israel for demolishing homes of suspected Palestinian attackers, saying it amounts to collective punishment. 

    Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported the army had arrested some of Abu Laila's relatives on Monday. 

    Israel launches Gaza air attacks after rockets fired at Tel Aviv

    Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, praised the West Bank attack as a "natural response to crimes committed by the Israeli occupation".

    The attack came after two Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces last week in separate West Bank incidents.

    On Thursday, two rockets from Gaza were fired towards Tel Aviv in a rare attack into the heart of Israel that looked to set the sides into another round of escalation.

    Hamas denied Israel's accusation it was behind the rocket fire. However, Israel went on to target several sites belonging to Hamas' military wing in Gaza with about 100 missiles.

    Palestinians - many without links to armed groups - carried out a wave of attacks in the West Bank in late 2015 and 2016 but the frequency of such incidents has since decreased.

    Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinian Authority seek to establish a state there and in the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies