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Israel troops kill Palestinian in West Bank

JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man near the city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said early yesterday, the latest in a growing wave of violence that has erupted during the holy month of Ramadhan.

The Israeli military said it opened fire at a man on a West Bank highway late on Sunday. The shooting raised to four the number of Palestinians killed in the past 24 hours, among them an unarmed woman who was shot and killed at a military checkpoint near Bethlehem.

Ramadhan this year converges with major Jewish and Christian holidays. Protests and clashes in Jerusalem during Ramadhan last year boiled over into an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza militants.

Israel has stepped up its military activity in the West Bank in recent weeks. Palestinian health officials identified the man killed in the latest shooting late on Sunday as 21-year-old Muhammad Ali Ahmed Ghoneim.

The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that Mohammed Zakarna, 17, died yesterday after he was wounded by Israeli fire in the West Bank city of Jenin a day earlier.

Israeli forces patrolled Jenin on Sunday as soldiers investigated the home of an attacker involved in a mass shooting last week. The army said soldiers came under fire from a gunman on a motorcycle and shot him. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Zakarna was shot during that incident.

Earlier Sunday, Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinian women. The Israeli army said one had stabbed and lightly wounded a policeman in the city of Hebron. The other was an unarmed woman who it said ignored warning shots and calls to stop as she approached a checkpoint near Bethlehem.

Palestinians and human rights groups said the Israeli military often uses excessive force and in some cases has injured or killed people who were not involved in violence.

The European Union’s diplomatic mission to the Palestinian territories, accused Israel of using unacceptable excessive force in fatally shooting the unarmed woman. “This incidence must be swiftly investigated and the perpetrators be brought to justice,” it wrote on Twitter.

An Israeli soldier guards an opening in Israel’s West Bank separation barrier. PHOTO: AP