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Palestinian Rights Lawyer, 2 Tens killed in Israel-West Bank Violence

A relative reacts during the funeral of Palestinian Mohammed Assaf, who was killed by Israeli forces during clashes in a raid in the Israeli-occupied West Bank April 13, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

A Palestinian lawyer and two teenagers were killed Wednesday, the fifth day of Israeli raids in the West Bank following a spate of deadly attacks in the Jewish state.

Israel has poured in additional forces and is reinforcing its wall and fence barrier with the occupied territory after four deadly attacks have claimed 14 lives in Israel, most of them civilians, in the past three weeks.

Wednesday's deaths bring to 18 the number of Palestinian fatalities in the ongoing escalation.

The Palestinian health ministry said human rights lawyer Muhammad Hassan Muhammad Assaf, 34, "died after being shot in the chest by the Israeli occupation army during the aggression on the city of Nablus", in the northern West Bank.

The Israeli army did not confirm its forces had shot the lawyer.

In the evening, the ministry said Israeli forces shot dead a teenager "during their aggression on Husan", in the southern West Bank.

The army said in a statement that soldiers shot a Palestinian suspect who had "hurled a Molotov cocktail" at them, adding that troops "used live ammunition in order to stop the immediate threat".

A community leader in Husan told AFP the deceased was 16-year-old Qusai Hamamrah.

Hundreds of Palestinians were rioting in the area following the incident, the army said.

Shortly after, the health ministry announced the death of Amer Elyan, who it said was killed by "a live bullet in the chest" fired by the Israeli army following an operation in Silwad, with six other Palestinians wounded.

Local residents told AFP Elyan was 18 years old.

Israeli forces did not immediately report clashes in the area.

The death came after police said their special forces arrested a Palestinian in Kubar and three others in Silwad -- both villages north of Ramallah -- who were planning an attack on Israelis.

The Shin Bet internal security agency said the Kubar suspect, identified as Moath Hamed, had escaped Palestinian custody where he was being held for his role in murdering an Israeli in 2015.

Violent clashes had erupted earlier in the day in Nablus, where Israeli forces were escorting a work crew that came to repair Joseph's Tomb -- a site sacred to Jews that was smashed in an act of vandalism last weekend.

Israeli troops racing through the city's streets in an armored convoy opened fire as a crowd pelted them with rocks and incendiary devices.

"Hundreds of Palestinians instigated a violent riot, burned tires and hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at the soldiers" who responded with "riot dispersal means and live ammunition," the army said.

Witnesses told AFP Assaf was standing by the roadside, having just taken his nephews to school, when he was hit by a bullet as Israeli forces fired while pulling out of Nablus.

Assaf was mourned as a "fierce defender of his people" by his employer, the Colonization and Wall Resistance Commission of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority.

After news of his death, Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh charged that Israeli soldiers "murder for the sake of murder, with a license granted by the prime minister of the occupying state, Naftali Bennett, without the slightest regard for international law".

Bennett has warned that Israel is now "on the offensive" and determined to arrest militant suspects.

The latest major attack Israel suffered was a shooting rampage last Thursday in Tel Aviv that claimed three lives and wounded over a dozen more. The gunman, from Jenin, died in a shootout with Israeli forces following an all-night manhunt.

Earlier Wednesday, the Israeli army said it carried out "counterterrorist operations" in the Palestinian militant bastion of Jenin and other West Bank cities.

In the city of Tulkarem, Israeli border police said they shot and wounded "a suspect in terrorist activity" who fled special forces trying to arrest him.

Bennett had vowed on Sunday that "we will not abide such an assault on a place that is holy to us -- on the eve of Passover", the Jewish festival.

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported 31 people wounded around the Nablus site and a nearby village, including 10 hit by live rounds.

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