NABLUS, West Bank (Reuters) - Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians who attacked a soldier in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, the army said.
The violence brought to four the number of Palestinian deaths in 24 hours and heightened tension that has been growing.
A Palestinian youth shot by Israeli forces on Saturday died from his wounds on Sunday, Palestinian medics said, the second death from the same incident in a village near Nablus.
The men who were shot on Sunday tried to stab a soldier in the same region, the army said.
Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Israel had responded to U.S. and international efforts to revive peace talks “with more escalation” that thwarted attempts to get negotiations going.
The four deaths from Israeli fire made it the bloodiest 24 hours for Palestinians in the West Bank in more than a year, Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib said.
Tensions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have risen in recent weeks, with Palestinians staging more protests over Israeli policies they believe aim to deepen the Jewish state’s control over land where the Palestinians want to found a state.
Many of the protests have turned violent, with Palestinians throwing rocks at soldiers who fire rubber bullets and tear gas.
Palestinian medics said Mohammed Kaddous, 16, and Osaid Kaddous, 17, were killed during a confrontation on Saturday between Israeli forces and Palestinian youths in the village of Iraq Burin. One was hit in the chest and the other in the head.
The Israeli army, which said it was responding to people throwing stones, denied using live rounds, only rubber bullets.
The two youths were the first Palestinians to die in protests over recent weeks. Villagers in Iraq Burin have been staging protests over Israeli-imposed restrictions on access to farmland that lies near the Jewish settlement of Har Brakha.
Khatib, who speaks for Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, said: “We look at this as part of the Israeli escalation. It could have been treated in a completely different way.
“But the Israelis have been escalating and this is something the prime minister has been warning against.”
Near Bethlehem on Sunday, about 100 Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli security forces, the Israeli army said. The security forces responded with riot dispersal means, it said.
Additional reporting by Ori Lewis in Jerusalem and Erika Solomon in Ramallah; Writing by Tom Perry