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Two Israelis, Palestinian killed in West Bank as sides meet in Jordan

Sunday's attack on the two settlers took place just south of the city
— Huwara (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

Two Israelis living in a West Bank settlement were killed Sunday in a "Palestinian terror attack", officials said, sparking violence in which a Palestinian man was killed, while settlers torched homes in revenge.

The latest deaths came amid talks in Jordan to discuss worsening violence in the occupied territory, and days after Israeli forces launched their deadliest West Bank raid in nearly 20 years, which left 11 Palestinians dead in the northern city of Nablus.

Sunday's attack on the two settlers -- named as brothers Yagel Yaniv, 20, and Hallel Yaniv, 22 -- took place just south of the city, targeting a car on the main road through the town of Huwara.

Israeli security forces deploy in Huwara in the occupied West Bank following the shooting death of two Israelis

A joint statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, confirmed "two Israeli civilians were killed in a Palestinian terror attack", which has not been claimed by any group.

They were residents of Har Bracha, a religious Jewish settlement close to Nablus, a statement from the community said.

Late Sunday, Israeli media reported clashes between Palestinians and settlers seeking revenge near Huwara. Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that settlers "set fire to several Palestinian-owned houses" in villages near Nablus.

A 37-year-old Palestinian, Sameh Aqtash, was shot dead in Zaatara village near Nablus, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The Israeli army did not immediately comment, but said it had evacuated dozens of Palestinians from their homes threatened by fires in Huwara.

- Netanyahu calls for calm -

Abdullah Al-Huwari, 36, an eyewitness, reported that "large numbers of settlers attacked the village of Huwara", setting fire to homes and cars.

Israel-Palestinian territory

"I see in front of me flames," he said. "Wherever I turn my eyes, I see the flames of a burning house."

Israeli President Isaac Herzog issued a "forceful condemnation".

"Taking the law into one's own hands, rioting, and committing violence against innocents -- this is not our way," Herzog said.

The Palestinian Red Cross said 98 people were treated, most after inhaling tear gas, while Israeli emergency services reported three Israelis injured after being hit by stones.

Netanyahu, in a video released by his office, called for calm.

"I ask –- even when the blood is boiling –- not to take the law into one's hands," Netanyahu said, calling for the security forces to "be allowed to carry out their work".

The office of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas accused Israel of "protecting terrorist acts perpetrated by settlers" in the West Bank.

The West Bank is home to about 2.9 million Palestinians as well as an estimated 475,000 Jewish settlers, who live in state-approved settlements considered illegal under international law.

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

The French foreign ministry on Monday warned the situation around Huwara threatened to spiral "out of control", and condemned both the initial murders and the ensuing backlash.

"France calls on all parties to avoid fanning the violence and to contribute to de-escalation," it said in a statement.

- Jordan talks -

The violence came as Israeli-Palestinian talks were held in Jordan aimed at quelling a surge in West Bank violence.

After the killings, Orit Strock, a settler and government minister, called for the "immediate return of the Israeli delegation" from the meeting in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba.

At the talks, Israel and the Palestinians "after thorough and frank discussions" pledged in a joint statement to work to prevent new violence.

Both sides "reaffirmed the need to commit to de-escalation on the ground and to prevent further violence", the statement said.

The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad heralded Sunday's shooting in Huwara as a "heroic operation".

"It sends a strong message to the Aqaba summit that our (Palestinian) resistance is present," said Islamic Jihad, which had joined Hamas and other militant groups in opposing the Jordan talks.

Since the start of this year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 63 Palestinian adults and children, including militants and civilians.

Eleven Israeli civilians, including three children, a police officer and one Ukrainian civilian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both sides.

The violence follows the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since at least 2005, which has continued since Netanyahu returned to power in December.

He leads an alliance with ultra-Orthodox and extreme-right parties and has vowed to continue Israeli settlement expansion in the Palestinian territory.

Netanyahu handed his ally Ben-Gvir critical powers in the West Bank, despite the hardliner's history of inflammatory remarks about Palestinians.

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