Israeli army kills 2 Palestinians in West Bank amid tensions

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli army fatally shot two Palestinian teenagers during confrontations in the occupied West Bank on Friday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. The teenagers were among the more than 100 Palestinians killed in the territory so far in 2022 — the deadliest spasm of violence in seven years.

The ministry identified the two Palestinians, killed in separate episodes, as 14-year-old Adel Daoud, shot in the head at Israel’s separation barrier near the northern Palestinian town of Qalqilya, and 17-year-old Mahdi Ladadweh, shot during clashes in a village northwest of Ramallah.

Rights groups accuse Israeli forces of using excessive force in their dealings with the Palestinians, particularly young men, without being held accountable. The military says it contends with complex, life-threatening scenarios.

On the fatal shooting near Qalqilya, the army said that troops opened fire in response to a suspect hurling molotov cocktails at them.

On the outburst of violence near Ramallah, the army said it encountered protesters who hurled rocks toward an Israeli settlement and Israeli forces. One soldier was wounded by a stone thrown at his head.

Israeli security forces said they responded with live fire toward two protesters, wounding one who required medical treatment. The army said it was aware of reports of his death.

It also accused Palestinians of violently confronting and attempting to steal the weapon of one of the Israeli soldiers trying to evacuate the wounded boy for medical treatment.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said 50 Palestinians were wounded in clashes in the village of Al Mazraa al-Gharbiya near Ramallah, as the Israeli army fired live rounds, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse demonstrators. Crowds of Palestinians gathered outside the Ramallah hospital where Ladadweh was pronounced dead, chanting against Israel.

Palestinian media quoted residents saying that the clashes with Israeli security forces erupted as dozens of Palestinians in Al Mazraa al-Gharbiya came out to protest incursions and attacks on the village by Israeli settlers.

Violence has sharply escalated in the West Bank over the last several months, largely due to a surge in Israeli arrest raids after a spate of Palestinian attacks within Israel killed 19 people last spring, some of which were carried out by Palestinians from the West Bank.

Israel says its operations aim to dismantle militant infrastructure and prevent future attacks, and that it has been forced to act because of the ineffectiveness of Palestinian security forces. For Palestinians, the nightly raids into their cities, villages and towns have entrenched Israeli control over lands Palestinians want for their hoped-for state.

Most of those killed are said by Israel to have been militants. But local youths protesting the incursions as well as some civilians have also been killed in the violence. Hundreds have been rounded up, with many placed in so-called administrative detention, which allows Israel to hold them without trial or charge.

The violence is also fueled by deepening disillusionment and anger among young Palestinians over the tight security coordination between Israel and the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority, which work together to apprehend militants.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and 500,000 Jewish settlers now live in some 130 settlements and other outposts among nearly 3 million Palestinians. The Palestinians want that territory, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, for their future state.