January 28, 2011 / 12:33 PM / in 8 years

Jewish settlers shoot 2 Palestinians in West Bank

BEIT UMMAR, West Bank (Reuters) - Jewish Settlers shot two Palestinian men in the occupied West Bank on Friday, critically injuring one of them, the mayor of a Palestinian village and Israeli police said.

Palestinians said the incident in the village of Beit Ummar near Hebron was the second time they had come under fire from settlers in 24 hours. A 19-year-old was shot dead on Thursday near Nablus, further north.

An Israeli police spokesman said several Israelis who had been hiking in the area were being questioned in connection with the shooting. He said the settlers had “probably” been attacked by stone-throwing Palestinians and had opened fire on them.

Nasri Sabarna, the mayor of Beit Ummar, told Reuters dozens of settlers had entered his village and started shooting at houses on Friday morning, hitting two youths working on land nearby.

Palestinian medics said Fakhri Youssef, 17, had been shot in the head and was on a life support machine.

Violence in the West Bank has largely subsided in the past few years, but Israeli military officials have warned in private that the stalling of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians could stoke tensions and break the status quo.

U.S.-brokered peace efforts broke down last year after Israel refused to give way to Palestinian demands to freeze settlement building on occupied land.

On Thursday, Oday Kaddous, 19, was shot dead near the village of Iraq Burin near Nablus. His cousin Omar Kaddous accused settlers of killing him in an unprovoked attack.

Israeli media said footage from a military security camera showed an Israeli-looking man shooting in the air after Palestinians started throwing stones at him. He then fired directly at the group.

Reporting by Ali Sawafta; writing by Maayan Lubell; editing by Andrew Roche

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