Israeli troops kill three Palestinians in W.Bank, Gaza unrest

Jerusalem (AFP) - Two Palestinian drivers Friday tried but failed to run down Israeli security forces in the occupied West Bank, with one attacker shot dead and the other wounded, Israeli officials said.

Troops later shot dead another man in clashes at Sinjil village northeast of the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian health officials said, naming him as Nashat Asfour, 33.

An army spokeswoman told AFP that troops came under attack by rock-throwing Palestinians there and after they ignored warning shots and calls to disperse "a shot was fired at an instigator and a hit was identified."

He was the third Palestinian killed on Friday, a traditional day of anti-occupation protest following weekly Muslim prayers.

Near the village of Silwad, northwest of Ramallah, Mohammed Ayad, 20, was killed as he tried to steer his vehicle into a group of border police and soldiers entangled in a clash with Palestinians, police said.

Police said Israeli forces took cover behind a concrete barrier, escaping injury.

"They opened fire at the terrorist... He was declared dead at the scene," it said in a statement.

In the Gaza Strip, soldiers shot dead a Palestinian protester and wounded another 41 people during clashes along the border with Israel, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Gaza's Hamas rulers, said the dead man, Mahmud al-Agha, 20, was one of its members.

Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP that 31 of the wounded were hit by live fire and the other 10 by rubber bullets.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said troops opened fire during a "violent riot" by Palestinians close to the border fence, which is off-limits.

"A hundred rioters attempted to breach the buffer zone and damage the fence," she told AFP.

"In order to prevent an escalation of violence and threat of infiltration, forces stationed along the border fired towards main instigators... Hits were confirmed."

In an unrelated event, the army said soldiers at the border discovered two bombs planted next to the fence, at the same spot where a charge was set off on Wednesday as a patrol passed by.

A wave of violence since the start of October has claimed the lives of 123 on the Palestinian side, and 17 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean.

Many of the Palestinians killed have been attackers, while others have been shot dead by Israeli security forces during clashes.

Also Friday in the West Bank, a Palestinian driver tried unsuccessfully to run down Israeli security forces before he was shot, wounded and arrested, police said.

"A Palestinian terrorist... drove at speed toward police and soldiers in an attempt to ram them", before his vehicle hit a concrete pillar and he got out and ran toward them, shouting, police said.

"A guard fired at his lower body and wounded him," it said, adding that he was treated at the scene and placed under arrest.

Police said the guards had first fired warning shots in the air and ordered the man to stop.

The incident occurred at the Qalandiya checkpoint, near Ramallah and close to a refugee camp of the same name, where soldiers on Wednesday shot dead two Palestinians who tried to ram their cars into troops in separate attacks.

- Journalists tear-gassed -

An AFP journalist at the scene of the Qalandiya incident said the wounded Palestinian could be seen sitting on a stretcher as security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse journalists.

The site is close to the family home of 14-year-old Hadeel Awwad, shot dead by an Israeli policeman after stabbing and wounding a man in a Jerusalem market last month.

The officer has been placed under justice ministry investigation over a suspected breach of open-fire regulations -- the first such probe in the current wave of violence.

Israeli authorities finally released her body on Friday to enable the family to bury her and ahead of the funeral young Palestinians hurled stones at soldiers, who responded by firing tear gas.

In the southern West Bank, soldiers shot a Palestinian in the head, seriously wounding him, during clashes near the flashpoint city of Hebron, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.

The wave of unrest has been fuelled by Palestinian frustration with Israeli occupation and lack of any progress in peace efforts, while international efforts to restore calm have so far failed.

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