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2 Palestinians killed as Israel raids West Bank

June 22, 2014
Associated Press

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Israeli troops shot dead a mentally ill Palestinian during a raid in a West Bank refugee camp early Sunday, the army said, while another Palestinian was killed in unclear circumstances during a night of violent confrontations in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

In Ramallah, stone-throwers clashed separately with Israeli troops and Palestinian police, and witnesses said both security forces responded with live fire.

Sunday's deaths brought to four the number of Palestinians killed since Israel launched its most extensive military operation in the West Bank in years in response to the apparent abduction of three Israeli teens on June 12.

As part of the crackdown, Israel has been trying to dismantle the Islamic militant Hamas in the West Bank, which it has blamed for the kidnapping, without providing proof.

Increasingly, Israeli troops raiding towns and refugee camps at night have been met by crowds of Palestinians throwing stones at them. There have also been signs of growing anger among Palestinians at President Mahmoud Abbas, who has defended his decision to continue security coordination with Israeli troops in finding the teens.

In the Al-Ein refugee camp in the northern West Bank, 27-year-old Ahmed Saoud was killed by Israeli troops as he walked to a local mosque for dawn prayers Sunday, said his father, Assad. The elder Saoud said his son suffered from mental illness.

The army said a Palestinian man approached soldiers in a threatening manner early Sunday, and that they fired warning shots before shooting him. The army said an "initial inquiry" suggested the man was mentally unstable.

The Israeli army raid in Ramallah began at around 2 a.m. Sunday, said witness Issam Rimawi, a photographer for a local newspaper.

Several hundred Palestinians threw stones and flower pots at soldiers who were searching offices in two downtown commercial buildings, said Rimawi. He said troops fired live rounds and rubber-coated steel pellets.

After the soldiers withdrew, several dozen protesters hurled stones at a nearby Palestinian police station, said Rimawi and a protester, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid repercussions from the authorities.

Both said protesters smashed windows of cars parked outside the station, and that police responded with live fire.

After the clash, the body of Mohammed Ismail, 31, was found on a rooftop opposite the police station, the two witnesses said.

Ahmed Bitawi, the director at Ramallah Hospital, said Ismail was killed with live bullets, but that he did not know whether he was killed by Israeli or Palestinian troops.

The witnesses noted that some of the clashes with Israeli soldiers had also taken place near the police station.

On Sunday, several dozen people marched in downtown Ramallah to protest Israeli-Palestinian security coordination.

"Why, why security coordination? We get hit once by the Palestinian Authority and once by the Israeli army," they chanted.

The Israeli teens went missing as they were returning home from a Jewish religious school in the West Bank.

Since then, Israel has arrested more than 350 Palestinians, most of them affiliated with Hamas, and raided some 1,600 sites in the West Bank.

The army said it arrested six Palestinians overnight Sunday, raided six sites affiliated with Hamas civilian institutions and confiscated funds from 42 sites it said were connected to militant activity.

In the Gaza Strip, Israel carried out airstrikes on four militant sites following rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, the army said. Also Sunday, a Palestinian armed with a hand grenade was caught near an Israeli town near the Gaza border, apparently after he broke through the border fence, the army said.


Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem contributed to this story.



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