Attacks on Israelis near Hebron after Palestinian killed

Jerusalem (AFP) - A Palestinian was killed and three Israeli soldiers injured in two attacks near the turbulent West Bank city of Hebron on Sunday.

One Palestinian tried to stab Israeli soldiers at a military checkpoint near Beit Einun village north of Hebron and was shot dead by troops, the army said.

Palestinian medical sources later identified him as Fadi Faroukh, 29.

In a second incident in the same area, which is near the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, three Israeli border police were injured when they were run over by a car in what police called an attack.

Israeli rescue services said one policeman was "moderately injured" and the other two lightly. The attacker was fired upon but escaped, police said.

Earlier, in the nearby village of Saair, Palestinians buried Raed Jaradat, 22, who was shot dead by soldiers during an October 26 attack, also at the Beit Einun junction.

His body had been held by the Israeli authorities until Sunday.

Israel has been withholding the bodies of suspected assailants as part of measures aimed at dissuading attacks on Jews.

On Friday, it said it had released seven bodies, apparently to ease tensions.

Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Sunday that he agreed to return the bodies of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank to the Palestinian Authority on condition that burials did not become protest rallies.

"I ordered the return of bodies to the Hebron area. If we get an undertaking that funerals will be quiet, we shall continue to return them," he said.

"If not, we shall not return them and will even bury them in our territory."

Two Palestinians were wounded in clashes with security forces after Sunday's funeral, an AFP correspondent in Hebron said.

Nine Israelis, 67 Palestinians -- around half of them alleged attackers -- and an Arab Israeli have been killed in a wave of violence since the beginning of October, raising fears of another Palestinian intifada or uprising.

Palestinian and Israeli leaders have sought to calm tensions leading to violence, but many attackers appear to have been acting outside formal political movements.

While the attacks were initially focused in Jerusalem, the epicentre has recently shifted to Hebron, the West Bank's largest city, where there have been daily protests and attacks on Israeli soldiers.

The city, home to a shrine known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque, has 200,000 Palestinian residents.

But the presence of around 500 Jewish settlers, protected by an army-patrolled buffer zone, is a constant source of tension.