January 11, 2018 / 4:48 PM / 2 months ago

Two Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli troops in Gaza, West Bank

GAZA (Reuters) - Two Palestinian youths were shot dead by Israeli troops during clashes on Thursday in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinian medical sources and witnesses said.

Israeli-Palestinian tensions have risen following U.S. President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that has sparked violent Palestinian protests along the Gaza border and in the West Bank.

A 16-year-old youth was killed and two others wounded in a clash near the Gaza-Israel border fence in which Palestinians threw stones at Israeli troops, one of the wounded youths, medics and witnesses said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said violent clashes had erupted at two locations along the Gaza border and some 50 Palestinians had participated, hurling rocks and rolling burning tyres that endangered troops who responded with warning shots followed by directed fire.

“Warning shots were fired at one location, but when the rioting continued, shots were fired at three main instigators who posed a threat to the soldiers and to the security fence,” the spokeswoman said.

A second Palestinian 16-year-old was killed in a clash at the village of Bureen near the town of Nablus in the central West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The spokeswoman said troops searching the area for the suspects in the killing of an Israeli settler who was shot dead earlier this week, had come under attack from “a massive barrage of rocks” and that troops had fired at the main instigator. She said the military was aware of a Palestinian fatality.

Militants in Gaza, which is dominated by the Islamist Hamas faction, have launched 18 rockets at Israel and two Hamas gunmen have been killed in retaliatory Israeli air strikes. Israeli gunfire has killed 14 protesters during cross-border clashes.

A total of 17 Palestinians and one Israeli have been killed since the flare-up began on December 6.

Analysts say neither Israel nor the Palestinians are interested in another Gaza war. Gaza’s neighbourhoods and its two million people still bear the scars of the heavy destruction caused by Israeli attacks during a seven-week conflict in 2014.

In Israel, there is little eagerness to endure again the daily disruptions brought by sirens warning of rocket strikes.

Writing by Ori Lewis, Editing by William Maclean

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