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Israeli forces kill two Palestinians in West Bank

People mourn the death of two Palestinians killed by Israeli troops in a morning raid on Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank. ©AFP

Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Israeli troops killed two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, the Palestinian health ministry said, as the army claimed to have targeted the perpetrators of a "shooting attack".

"Two martyrs, shot by the occupation (Israeli forces) arrived at Thabet Thabet government hospital," in the city of Tulkarm, the health ministry said.

It named the two men as Hamza Khrewish and Samer al-Shafei, both 22, and said that one other person was wounded in the raid.

The Israeli army said the pair were "involved in the shooting attack in Avnei Heftz on May 2, 2023 during which an Israeli civilian was injured".

"The two gunmen were shot and killed after attempting to flee the scene," an army statement said, adding that two others were arrested in the operation.

"Two M-16 rifles, military vests and magazines" were confiscated.

Hundreds of mourners later gathered for the funerals of the two men, whose bodies were carried through the streets of Tulkarm, shrouded in the Palestinian flag,.

Avnei Heftz is a settlement in the West Bank deemed illegal under international law.

The Tulkarm Brigade, a local militant group linked to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, the armed wing of the ruling Fatah party, claimed the two men as members.

The group also took responsibility for the Avnei Heftz attack, calling it a "revenge operation," according to a statement.

A general strike was called in Tulkarm.

Palestinian prime minister Mohammad  Shtayyeh said the men were "two new victims of the organised terrorism practised by the occupation soldiers against our people."

On Thursday, Israeli security forces shot dead three Palestinians blamed for killing a British-Israeli woman and two of her daughters in the West Bank last month.

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said all three men killed in what it termed an "assassination" were from its ranks, hailing them as "heroes of resistance".

Earlier in the week, Israel carried out air strikes in Gaza in response to rocket fire by Islamic Jihad militants following the death in Israeli custody of Khader Adnan, a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike.

The latest violence brings to 108 the number of Palestinians killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so far this year.

Nineteen Israelis, one Ukrainian and one Italian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP count based on official sources from the two sides.

These figures include combatants as well as civilians, and, on the Israeli side, include three members of the Arab minority.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967.

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