Middle East

Gunfire, clashes with Israeli troops kill 2 Palestinians

Clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian demonstrators erupted in a West Bank refugee camp overnight Monday after Israeli forces arrived to demolish the home of a Palestinian militant, leaving two Palestinians dead.

It was the latest bloodshed in a two-month wave of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Amid the unrest, Israel recently renewed a policy of demolishing homes belonging to Palestinians accused in deadly attacks. Israel says the policy deters attacks, but critics say the tactic amounts to collective punishment.

In Monday's violence, the Israeli military said troops entered the Qalandiya refugee camp on the outskirts of Jerusalem to demolish the home of Muhammad Abu Shaheen, a Palestinian who the army says fatally shot an Israeli motorist in the West Bank this summer. Abu Shaheen is now in an Israeli prison.

After the troops arrived, hundreds of Palestinians gathered and many threw firebombs and rocks as the Israeli forces demolished the home, and troops fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the protesters, the military said.

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According to Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman Mohammed Awawdeh, a 21-year-old and a 28-year-old were killed in a shootout. The army said Palestinians opened fire at the Israeli forces and they returned fire at the attackers.

The current round of violence erupted mid-September at Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site and quickly spread to the West Bank, Israeli cities and the Gaza border. Israel says the violence is the result of Palestinian incitement, while Palestinians say it stems from frustration of nearly half a century of Israeli occupation.

Palestinian attacks, mainly stabbings, have killed 14 Israelis, and at least 83 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, including 51 Israel says were involved in assaults. The rest were killed in clashes with security forces.