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Israel forces kill Palestinian teen near Bethlehem

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Palestinian farmers work in their field in the West Bank village of Al-Khader near the biblical town of Bethlehem. Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian throwing Molotov cocktails in the area on Tuesday. AFP

Israel forces kill Palestinian teen near Bethlehem

Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank killed a Palestinian teenager on February 22, the Palestinian health ministry said, as the Israeli military said it shot dead a suspect throwing Molotov cocktails.

“Mohammed Shehade, 14, was killed by Israeli forces’ gunfire in Al-Khader” in the Bethlehem area, a ministry statement said.

Two other teenagers have been killed over the past 10 days in the West Bank, where deadly incidents are common, often during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops.

Israel’s army confirmed in a statement the death of a Palestinian, who was among three suspects who “hurled Molotov cocktails at passing drivers, endangering their lives”.

Troops were “conducting counterterrorism activity” in the Al-Khader area where numerous civilian vehicles had been targeted by the incendiary devices over the past month, the army said.

“The troops operated to stop them, firing at one of the suspects that hurled a Molotov cocktail toward passing vehicles. The suspect was hit,” it said.

Troops provided first aid but the suspect died, it added.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967. Since then, about 475,000 Jewish settlers have moved into the territory, living in communities considered illegal under international law, alongside nearly 2.9 million Palestinians.

The latest death comes one week after Israeli fire killed another teenage Palestinian in the West Bank, both sides said, during what witnesses described as a confrontation between protesters and Israeli troops.

Residents in the community of Nabi Saleh, northwest of Ramallah, identified the victim as Nehad Bargouthi, 19.

His killing came less than two days after a teenager was killed by Israeli gunfire near the flashpoint West Bank town of Jenin.

Mohammed Abu Salah, 17, was shot during clashes that erupted as Israeli forces were destroying the home of a Palestinian they accused of carrying out the December killing of a Jewish settler in the West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is the former head of a settler lobbying council who opposes Palestinian statehood.

He has ruled out any formal peace talks with Palestinians during his tenure, but said he will work to improve economic conditions in the West Bank, parts of which the Palestinian Authority has civilian control over.

Ties between the Authority, led by Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, and Israel remain fraught. There have, however, been signs of a thaw in recent months following a series of high-level meetings, including Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz hosting Abbas at his home.

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