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Israel troops kill 4 Palestinians in West Bank unrest

Palestinian gunmen take part in the funeral procession of three Palestinians killed by Israeli forces during a West Bank raid
— Jenin (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

Israeli troops on Thursday killed three Palestinians during a firefight in a West Bank city, and another in a separate incident, Palestinian officials said.

The gunfire came during the latest in scores of near-daily raids the army has carried out through much of this year in the occupied West Bank following a series of deadly attacks on Israelis.

The surging violence has sparked global alarm.

Israeli forces said no troops were hurt in the exchange of fire with militants in the city of Jenin, a stronghold of hardline factions.

The Palestinian health ministry said three people were killed "by bullets from the Israeli occupation during its aggression in Jenin at dawn".

Troops entered to detain people "suspected of involvement in terrorist activity", the Israeli military said.

"The soldiers operated while being targeted with direct fire and responded with live fire," the army said in a statement.

Jenin

The Islamic Jihad militant group said its fighters engaged in "fierce clashes" with Israeli forces in the northern West Bank city.

Mahmud al-Saadi, head of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Jenin, told AFP an ambulance crew came under fire "from a building where Israeli snipers were present" while it was evacuating a wounded person.

The Israeli military told AFP it was "not aware" of such allegations.

Jenin's Ibn Sina hospital identified the dead as Atta Shalabi, Sidqi Zakarneh and Tariq Damej.

Palestinians carried the bodies of those killed through the streets for their funeral procession.

The Israeli army said it had carried out multiple operations across the West Bank overnight Wednesday-Thursday to arrest wanted suspects in cities including Bethlehem and Ramallah.

Later on Thursday, Israeli troops fired at Palestinians who "hurled rocks and paint bottles at cars" on a road northwest of Ramallah, the army said.

The Palestinian health ministry said one person was killed, and a Palestinian security source named him as Deyaa Erhimi, 16, from the nearby village of Beit Rima.

Two others were wounded in the incident and transferred to hospital, the ministry added.

- International alarm -

A surge in bloodshed this year has seen 26 Israelis and at least 150 Palestinians killed across Israel and the West Bank.

An ambulance came under fire

The toll includes more than 40 Palestinians killed during Israeli operations in the Jenin area, among them children as young as 12 and veteran Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh as well as militants.

Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called on the international community "to protect our people" amid ongoing "Palestinian bloodshed".

The European Union said Saturday it was "greatly concerned about the increasing level of violence".

A US State Department spokesman has also called "for all parties to do everything in their power to de-escalate the situation".

Also last week, the United Nations envoy for Middle East peace, Tor Wennesland, warned the situation in the territory was "reaching a boiling point".

In the West Bank town of Silwad, Palestinians gathered for the funeral of Muhajid Mahmoud Hamed, 32, killed by Israeli troops on Wednesday, after what the army said was a drive-by shooting targeting a military post.

A Palestinian boy in a damaged home after a raid by Israeli force in Jenin

Israel has occupied the West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, since the Six-Day War of 1967.

Hamas, the Palestinian militant group which rules the Gaza Strip, called "on the masses of our people in the West Bank and the revolutionary youth to escalate the resistance" against the Israeli occupation.

Gaza was hit by three days of fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad militants in August in which 49 Palestinians were killed.

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