Two Palestinians Shot Dead

Two Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli troops in the West Bank.

Palestinian medical sources confirmed the deaths on Sunday to Al Jazeera, saying that they had been told to collect two bodies.

The Israeli army said that the Palestinians had tried to stab an Israeli soldier near a security crossing southeast of Nablus.

"Two men tried to stab a soldier during a routine patrol near the Awarta security crossing near Nablus. The force opened fire and confirmed their death," an army spokeswoman said.

The deaths bring to four the number of Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank over the last two days.

West Bank Funerals

Two Palestinians were killed on Saturday during a protest in the West Bank city of Nablus when they were hit by live ammunition, apparently fired by Israeli troops.

The Israeli military denied its soldiers had used live ammunition at the protest, saying they had used only riot control weapons such as teargas and rubber-coated bullets.

But a Palestinian doctor has said X-rays prove the military’s claim is false and that the boys were struck by live ammunition.

The Israeli military has said it will investigate the incident which occured amid "a violent and illegal riot" near Iraq Burin, during which dozens of rock-hurling Palestinians approached Bracha, a nearby settlement.

Clashes take place in the village on a nearly weekly basis over a water well that Palestinians claim Jewish settlers are trying to seize for their own use.

Mourners gathered in the town of Iraq Burin on Sunday for the funeral of the two boys.

Rising Anger

Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera’s correspondent reporting from Iraq Burin, said: "The amount of anger we’ve felt among the residents here [and] people who’ve come from nearby villagers is really extraordinary."

The fatality was the first during a string of clashes that erupted this week following Israel’s consecration of an ancient synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalemwhich has increased tensions among Palestinians.

The deaths have overshadowed a visit by Ban Ki-moon,the UN secretary-general, to the Palestinian territories to reiterate the commitment of the Quartet of Middle East negotiators’ to an independent Palestinian state.

The Quartet – which brings together the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States – had issued a statement condemning Israeli settlement building and calling for a peace deal by 2014 after a meeting in Moscow on Friday.

Following Israel’s announcement of 1,600 new housing unitsfor a development in East Jerusalem last week, the Palestinian Authority pulled out of planned "proximity" talks demanding a complete halt to settlement activity.

There are still various planning hurdles for the East Jerusalem project to clear, and work is not thought likely to start for at least another two years.

Under pressure from the US, Israel has agreed a 10-month suspension of new building in the West Bank. However, the moratorium excludes East Jerusalem, where the Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.

Israel’s continued expansion of settlements is one of the biggest obstacles to the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians, now suspended for more than a year despite months of US-led shuttle diplomacy.
(Aljazeera and Agencies)

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