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Israel forces kill two Palestinians in West Bank raid

Relatives of Palestinian Basel Basbous, killed at dawn by Israeli forces, mourn as they gather at the Al-Jalazun refugee camp, near the Israeli settlement of Beit El in the occupied West Bank, on October 3, 2022
— Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

Israeli forces killed two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Monday during what the army called an attempted car-ramming attack on soldiers carrying out an arrest operation.

The deaths came during one of the worst periods of unrest in years in the West Bank where Israeli forces have conducted near daily raids since March.

The latest deaths were in the central West Bank, at the Jazalone refugee camp near Ramallah, where the army said it "apprehended an individual suspected of terror activity".

"During the activity, two suspects attempted to carry out a (car) ramming attack against soldiers," an army statement said.

"The soldiers responded with fire and neutralised the two suspects."

The Palestinian health ministry named those killed as 19-year-old Basel Basbous and Khaled Anbar, 20. Raafat Habash, 19, was seriously injured, the ministry said.

Anbar's mother, Umm Khaled al-Dabbas, told AFP she believed her son had not attempted to carry out an attack.

"They were driving, they had nothing in their hands," she said. "They could have arrested them, why did they shoot them?"

In Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority, a general strike was called in protest at the deaths.

It shut down much of the city, with youths patrolling the streets demanding businesses close for the day, as car tyres were burning on the streets.

- Mounting toll -

Palestinian protesters burn tyres near Al-Jalazun refugee camp, near the Israeli settlement of Beit El in the occupied West Bank, on October 3, 2022, after Israeli forces killed two Palestinians nearby at dawn

Amid the unrelenting army raids, Israel's comptroller general Matanyahu Englman issued what he called an "urgent report" on Sunday, warning that the pace of the military activity mandated new resource planning.

"The Israel Defense Forces are carrying out an important operation in the West Bank," he said, adding it was clear that "it's an operation that could take a long time".

Englman urged military brass to take "immediate" action "to improve the logistic infrastructure for combat soldiers and reservists in the West Bank," raising specific alarm about inadequate food rations.

The army said Monday's operation included raids in several West Bank locations, with 16 people arrested overnight.

Palestinian fatalities in the West Bank this year are on track to rival a deadly 2015 phase, when Israel responded to a flurry of stabbings carried out by so-called lone wolf attackers.

According to a tally by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 84 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank by Israeli army fire from January 1 until September 20.

An AFP tally from September 21 until Monday counts an additional 10 Palestinian deaths.

The circumstances surrounding fatal shootings in the West Bank are often disputed, but a substantial number of Palestinians killed in the territory were fighters claimed by armed groups, including many who were firing on Israeli troops.

An Israeli soldier was lightly injured late Sunday in a shooting attack near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, the army said.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967.

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