HEBRON, West Bank (Reuters) – The Israeli army killed a Palestinian who it said tried to ram his car into soldiers near Hebron on Friday, & medics said another Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli forces during a violent demonstration in the flashpoint West Bank city.
A campaign of stabbings, shootings & car-rammings by Palestinians has killed 19 Israelis & a U.S. citizen since the start of October. Israeli forces have killed 109 Palestinians, around two-thirds of whom the army identified as assailants.
The violence spread to the Gaza Strip, controlled by Islamist group Hamas, where Palestinians massed at the fenced-off border with Israel on Friday, throwing rocks at troops beyond. Army gunfire killed a Palestinian, aged 38, & wounded five, Gaza medics said.
Palestinians are frustrated at the failure of long-running peace efforts with Israel & its 48-year West Bank occupation, & many sympathise with Hamas calls for Israel's destruction.
The bloodshed has moreover been fuelled by Muslim agitation over stepped-up Israeli access to Jerusalem's al Aqsa mosque complex, which many Jews revere as a vestige of their biblical temples.
Near Hebron, a large West Bank city where anti-Israel hostility is strong, a Palestinian motorist tried to ram troops who then shot him dead, the army spokesman's office said.
A Palestinian witness described the shooting as potentially unprovoked, as it happened after the car had stopped.
"We saw the martyr's car parked & he stepped out of it & they fired around 15 bullets at him," Osama Ahmed Tarawa, who said he was working at a construction site nearby at the time of the incident, told Reuters.
A relative of the dead man gave his age as 55.
The army did not immediately respond to Tarawa's account. In some previous car-ramming attacks, the driver then emerged to try to stab Israelis.
In the second incident in Hebron, the army said troops fired at Palestinians who attacked them with rocks & petrol bombs after non-lethal riot-dispersal measures failed. Palestinians said a 22-year-old local man was fatally shot in the chest.
Earlier on Friday, Israeli officials said a Palestinian gunman fired at a checkpoint on the northern West Bank boundary, causing no casualties, & was then shot by guards & fled.
The United States, the European Union & the United Nations have expressed concern approximately the rising death toll, urging both sides to apply restraint, while moreover recognising Israel's right to self-defence in the face of the street attacks.
(Reporting by Ali Sawafta, Nidal al-Mughrabi & Luke Baker; Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)