Two more teens shot dead as West Bank tensions escalate
ISRAELI troops shot dead two Palestinians yesterday in an escalation of bloodshed which brought the total killed in the West Bank to four within 24 hours.
Two teenagers were killed the previous day by troops who used what local medics said was live ammunition as they were controlling an occupation protest.
The renewed violence in the occupied territories fuelled tension amongst Palestinians around Nablus, who disputed official claims that rubber bullets had been used.
The fatal clashes came as officials confirmed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would meet US President Barack Obama in Washington tomorrow amid continued US efforts to relaunch indirect negotiations between the two sides in the conflict.
The two Palestinians who died yesterday, said to be in their late teens, were from the village of Awarta near Nablus, on village farmland overlooked by the Jewish settlement of Itamar.
Villagers said they assumed the pair were working the land. The Israeli military said they had tried to stab a soldier.
Dr Abdul Karim Hashesh, a medic at Nablus's Rafidia Hospital, where the bodies were taken, said that one, Mohammed Kuari, was hit by a total of seven bullets and the other, Saleh Kuaraik, was hit by at least three.
Yesterday afternoon, young Palestinians burned tyres and set up makeshift roadblocks of rocks across one of the main roads into Awarta in protest at the shootings. On Thursday, a Thai worker in Israel was killed by a Qassam rocket from Gaza.
Palestinian medics strongly disputed official claims by the Israeli military that two other teenagers killed during clashes in the village of Iraq Burin, west of the city, had been shot with rubber bullets rather than live rounds.
The youths, Mohammed Qadus (16) and Osaid Qadus (18) were buried yesterday in the village, perched on a picturesque hilltop across a valley from the Jewish settlement of Brakha.
One witness, Walid Jaber Qadus (48), said there had been earlier clashes on the eastern side of the village between stone-throwing youngsters and troops who took over the roof of a house and fired tear-gas and rubber bullets. But he said that neither boy had been throwing stones when they were fired on at the western side of the village by soldiers who had arrived in five Jeeps from the direction of Nablus.
The Israeli military said on Saturday that it had opened an investigation into the shootings but also insisted that soldiers had responded with tear gas and rubber bullets to a "violent and illegal riot" and added that "live fire was not used."
But a hospital X-ray published by the Israeli human rights agency Btselem, and also shown to 'The Independent' by doctors at Nablus's private Speciality Hospital, show what appears to be a conventional steel bullet lodged in the brain of Osaid Qadus. (©Independent News Service)