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Four Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in West Bank and Gaza

Four Palestinians, including two teenagers, were killed by Israeli troops in the West Bank and Gaza in the past 24 hours
Palestinian paramedics carry a protester on a stretcher during a demonstration near the border between Israel and Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip (AFP)

Israeli forces shot and killed three Palestinians, including a teenager, in the Gaza Strip during the latest of weekly protests on Friday, Palestinian health officials said. Late on Thursday, Israeli troops had killed another teenager in the occupied West Bank.

Mohammed al-Jahjuh, 16, was taking part in the Great March of Return, a mass Palestinian protest started on 30 March to demand the end of Israel's seige on Gaza and the refugees' right of return.

"He was hit in the neck by a bullet fired by Israeli soldiers," ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qodra told AFP.

The health ministry later said two men, aged 28 and 40, died of injuries they sustained at protests in two separate locations along the fence with Israel earlier in the day.

Four paramedics were injured, the health ministry said. The Israeli army said that it had opened fire "according to operational procedures" in place after Palestinians gathered to protest.

Less than 24 hours earlier, Israeli troops seized the body of 17-year-old Qassem al-Abasi in the West Bank.

Israel's army spokesperson told AFP that "soldiers opened fire in the direction of a vehicle which was attempting to break through a military barrier in the Ramallah region, killing one of the occupants".

Abasi was from East Jerusalem. The Israeli army has opened an investigation into the incident. 

The West Bank is illegally occupied by Israel, according to UN Security Council resolutions. But since 1967, Israel has built settlements and seized Palestinian land, and built a separation wall and highways that connect settlements without passing through Palestinian villages.

In the past two weeks, Palestinian gunmen shot and killed three Israelis, two of them army soldiers, near Ramallah. Israel killed five Palestinians, the last on 14 December in al-Jalazone refugee camp.

A baby was born prematurely and died after the mother, an Israeli settler, was wounded in a drive by shooting at the illegal Ofra settlement on 9 December.

Last Friday, Palestinians protested in the West Bank and Gaza Strip against Israeli military operations in West Bank towns.

Israeli troops and military vehicles had moved into downtown Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority government.

Although arrests of Palestinians in night raids by the Israeli army occur almost daily, Israel has intensified its operations in search of Palestinian gunmen allegedly responsible for killing the Israeli soldiers.

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