JERUSALEM (AP) — Two Palestinians were killed in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, the official Palestinian news agency said, blaming both deaths on Israeli troops conducting arrest raids. However, witnesses said one of the men was apparently killed by Palestinian gunmen in a drive-by shooting.
One of them was killed in the Balata refugee camp, the other in the town of el-Bireh.
In Balata, troops arrested a wanted Palestinian during one of several early morning raids in the West Bank, the Israeli military said. The army said troops came under fire and shot back.
The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that Samer Khaled, a 25-year-old Palestinian man, died of a bullet wound in Balata. The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, said he was killed by Israeli troops.
However, Palestinian witnesses said Khaled was shot by one or more Palestinian gunmen after the Israeli military had left the area. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. Khaled’s body was taken by his family for burial before health officials could perform an autopsy.
The Israeli military said it was aware of a death in Balata, but did not provide further information.
In the el-Bireh raid, the military said troops came under fire and fired back. Wafa said a 26-year-old man, identified as Yazan Afaneh, was killed by Israeli fire.
Israel has been conducting near-daily raids in the occupied West Bank since March, driving up tensions. Israel began the raids after a series of deadly attacks earlier this year by Palestinians against Israelis that killed 19 people.
Dozens of Palestinians have been killed since the start of the year, many of them militants or Palestinians involved in clashes with Israeli forces, the military says. But the rising figure includes several civilians, including a veteran journalist and a lawyer who apparently drove unwittingly into a battle zone.
Israel captured the West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek the territories for a future independent state.