RAMALLAH, PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES:
Two Israeli civilians were killed in a suspected shooting attack in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, the army said.
“A suspected shooting attack was carried out at a number of Israeli civilians in the area of the town of Huwara,” an army statement said, adding that two civilians had been killed.
The official Palestinian news agency He died reported that the army had closed key entrances to the main northern West Bank city of Nablus, and that soldiers were forcing businesses to close as they searched for the suspected attackers.
Hamas spokesman Abdul Latif al-Qanou said the attack was the “result of the resistance’s continuous promise to defend our people and respond to the crimes of the occupation.”
The West Bank has seen a surge in violence since early last year, with a string of attacks by Palestinians on Israeli targets, repeated Israeli army raids and violence by Jewish settlers against Palestinian communities.
Earlier Saturday, a Palestinian died from wounds sustained during an Israeli raid on the Balata refugee camp near Nablus earlier this week.
On Thursday, Israeli troops killed a Palestinian militant during a raid in Jenin, also in the northern West Bank.
Huwara, a Palestinian town just south of Nablus, has seen a number of attacks on Jewish settlers or the Israeli military since early last year.
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Settlers have responded with revenge attacks on the town and surrounding villages, in which one Palestinian has been killed and 30 homes and more than 100 vehicles set on fire.
Israeli human rights groups B’Tselem and Peace Now said the settler violence that followed a February attack in which two settlers were killed amounted to a “pogrom”. The army said the settlers had carried out “actions of terrorism”.
At least 218 Palestinians have been killed in violence linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this year.
Some 30 Israelis, one Ukrainian and one Italian have also been killed, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources on both sides.
They include, on the Palestinian side, combatants as well as civilians and, on the Israeli side, three members of the Arab minority.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967.
Excluding annexed east Jerusalem, the territory is home to nearly three million Palestinians and around 490,000 Israelis who live in settlements considered illegal under international law.