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Israeli troops kill two Palestinians in West Bank

The windows of Milan's Pirelli tower are illuminated to commemorate World AIDS Day in December 2017. ©AFP

Jenin (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Israeli troops killed two Palestinians on Wednesday whom the army accused of shooting at soldiers during a raid in the occupied West Bank.

The deadly raid came as residents across Israel and the Palestinian territories braced for further violence, a day after Israeli air strikes killed 15 Gazans, including children and top militants.

The Palestinian health ministry identified the two men shot dead by troops in the West Bank town of Qabatiya as Ahmed Jamal Tawfiq Assaf, 19, and Rani Walid Ahmed Qatanat, 24.

The ministry added that a 17-year-old was in a "very critical" condition after the raid, near the northern city of Jenin.

The Israeli military said troops detained one person during the incursion, when troops were shot at from a vehicle.

"The soldiers responded with live fire toward the two assailants and killed them," the army said.

"An M-16 rifle and a handgun" were found at the scene, the statement added.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967 and its forces regularly operate in Palestinian cities.

Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that clashes erupted after soldiers "stormed the town and raided a number of citizens' homes".

The latest deadly Israeli raid comes after Tuesday's air strikes killed Tareq Ezzedine, a militant leader in the West Bank who was based in Gaza.

Ezzedine was one of three top figures in the Islamic Jihad group targeted in the strikes on Gaza.

Along with militants Jihad Ghannam and Khalil al-Bahtini, the strikes also killed four children, the territory's health ministry said.

Islamic Jihad vowed to retaliate and Israel has warned its residents near the border to stay near bomb shelters.

'Out of control'

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, whose Islamist movement rules Gaza, said "assassinating the leadership" would bring "greater resistance".

Both militant groups are considered terrorist organisations by Israel and the United States.

Washington called Tuesday for "all parties to de-escalate the situation".

While Hamas has fought multiple wars with Israel in recent years, the group stayed on the sidelines of a three-day conflict fought between the country and Islamic Jihad in August.

Following Tuesday's air strikes, Egypt -- a longtime mediator in Gaza -- said such actions "inflame the situation in a way that could get out of control".

The latest violence brings to 125 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, three members of the country's Arab minority.

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