Israel and West Bank on edge after more bloodshed

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People carry the body of Palestinian woman, in Husan

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM -Israeli forces killed two Palestinian women on Sunday after one ran towards troops and the other stabbed a soldier in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank, Israeli security officials said.

With violence surging after a string of deadly Arab attacks in Israel, a Palestinian man was killed by Israeli soldiers during what local residents said were confrontations with stone-throwers near the West Bank town of Bethlehem, the Palestinian health ministry announced.

The Israeli military said troops shot a Palestinian throwing petrol bombs towards an Israeli vehicle.

The bloodshed has coincided with the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when Israeli-Palestinian violence has erupted in the past and, last May, spiralled into an 11-day war between Gaza militants and Israel.

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In Bethlehem, no weapon was found on the body of a Palestinian woman who was shot and killed after she ignored soldiers’ calls and warning fire to stop running towards them, the Israeli military said, adding it had begun an investigation.

Hours later, a Palestinian woman armed with a knife was shot dead after she slightly wounded a paramilitary border policeman in Hebron, outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs, which Muslims call al-Ibrahimi mosque, Israeli security officials said.

Israeli forces have been on high alert following attacks by three members of Israel’s Arab minority and two Palestinians from the West Bank that have killed 14 people in Israel since late March.

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More than 20 Palestinians, many of them armed militants, have been killed by Israeli forces since January, while Palestinians have reported a rise in violence by Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian official, said Israel’s expansion of settlements on occupied land Palestinians want for a state and visits by far-right Israelis to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem have led to escalation.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said Arab assailants were “trying to destroy us” and were “moved by hatred of Jews and of the State of Israel”.

Israeli forces have been mounting raids in and around the West Bank city of Jenin, a militant stronghold, to try to thwart what Bennett has called “a new wave of terrorism”.

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(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller and Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Alex Richardson)

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