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Five Palestinians dead, soldier wounded as West Bank violence flares

Israeli troops inspect the belongings of a 20-year-old woman soldier who was wounded in a suspected Palestinian car-ramming attack in the occupied West Bank
— Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

Israeli troops shot dead four Palestinians in the occupied West Bank Tuesday, Palestinian officials said, and a suspected car-ramming attacker was killed after wounding an Israeli soldier, Israeli medics and the army said.

The army confirmed its troops had fired on "rioters" who attacked soldiers in two separate clashes in the West Bank overnight.

A 20-year-old woman soldier was "moderately injured and evacuated to a hospital for medical treatment" following a suspected car-ramming north of Jerusalem, the army said. Jerusalem's Shaare Tzedek hospital confirmed the alleged attacker had been killed.

The West Bank has suffered spiralling violence this year, with near daily Israeli army raids leading to scores of deaths -- of Palestinian fighters and also civilians -- while Jewish settlers have been increasingly targeted by at times deadly Palestinian violence.

In Kafr Ein, near Ramallah, two brothers were killed by Israeli fire, the Palestinian health ministry said.

A third man died of bullet wounds to the head fired by Israeli troops in Beit Ummar, while a fourth Palestinian died after being shot in the chest by Israeli soldiers on Tuesday afternoon during clashes north of Ramallah, the ministry said in seperate statements.

Palestinian news agency Wafa named the man killed near Ramallah as Raed Ghazi Al-Naasan.

Commenting on the Beit Ummar clash, the Israeli army said it had opened fire on "rioters" who "hurled rocks and improvised explosive devices at the soldiers" after two vehicles got stuck during an "operation patrol" in the area.

Palestinian official news agency Wafa named the dead man as Mufid Mahmud Khalil, 44, from the Beit Ummar area.

The health ministry identified the dead in Kafr Ein as brothers Jawad Abdulrahman Rimawi, 22, and Dhafer Abdul Rahman Rimawi, 21.

The Israeli army said "a violent riot was instigated by a number of suspects," during "routine" overnight activity in the Kafr Ein area.

"The suspects hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails toward the soldiers, who responded with riot dispersal means and live fire," an army statement said, adding that the military was "aware" of reports of two fatalities.

"The incident is under review," the army said.

Palestinian Authority civil affairs minister Hussein Al Sheikh described the killing of the two brothers as an "execution in cold blood".

Near the West Bank settlement of Migron, the army reported "a ramming attack".

The Magen David Adom emergency response agency said its staff treated "a 20-year-old female injured in a car-ramming terror attack," and took her to Shaare Tzedek hospital.

- Boiling point -

Israeli forensic scientists inspect the vehicle used in a suspected Palestinian car-ramming attack that seriously wounded a woman before the driver was shot dead

On Monday, the United Nations envoy for Middle East peace, Tor Wennesland, warned the situation in the West Bank was "reaching a boiling point".

"High levels of violence in the occupied West Bank and Israel in recent months, including attacks against Israeli and Palestinian civilians, increased use of arms and settler-related violence, have caused grave human suffering," he told the Security Council.

This week, the army announced it had made more than 3,000 arrests this year as part of Operation Break the Wave, a campaign it launched following a series of deadly attacks against Israeli civilians.

The UN says more than 125 Palestinians have been killed across the West Bank this year.

Israel has occupied the territory since the Six-Day War of 1967. An estimated 475,000 Jewish settlers now live in the territory, alongside some 2.9 million Palestinians, in communities considered illegal under international law.

Tuesday's violence came as veteran hawk Benjamin Netanyahu continued negotiations to form what could be the most right-wing government in Israel's history, following a general election earlier this month.

On Friday, Netanyahu signed an agreement with lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir that promised the far-right firebrand the new post of national security minister, with responsibility for the border police in the West Bank.

Ben-Gvir, known for anti-Arab rhetoric, has repeatedly called on police and soldiers to use more force when confronting Palestinian unrest.

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