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Israeli forces kill two Palestinians near military checkpoint south of Nablus

Imad Abu Rashid and Ramzi Sami Zabara were fatally shot near the Huwwara checkpoint and two other Palestinians wounded
Palestinian security forces carry the body of Imad Abu Rashid, during his funeral in Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, 28 October 2022 (AFP)
Palestinian security forces carry the body of Imad Abu Rashid, during his funeral in Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, 28 October 2022 (AFP)

Two Palestinians were killed on Friday by Israeli forces near the Huwwara military checkpoint, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Imad Abu Rashid, 47, and Ramzi Sami Zabara, 35, were hit in the upper body by Israeli troops after a shootout at another army post was reported. 

The Israeli army said soldiers came under attack from a passing car and later fired at two  "suspect" vehicles. It was not immediately clear if Abu Rashid and Zabara were in the same vehicle from which the alleged shooters fired at soldiers. The army said no Israelis were wounded.

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Palestinian media said the two men hailed from the Askar refugee camp near Nablus and were members of the Civil Defence, which is part of the Palestinian Security Services. 

A third Palestinian also sustained critical injuries and was taken to hospital for medical treatment, where he underwent a surgery and is now in a stable condition, the health ministry said. 

A fourth Palestinian who was waiting to cross the checkpoint was also shot in the foot and detained by the Israeli soldiers, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Israeli forces and settlers have killed more than 175 Palestinians this year, including more than 125 in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, of whom more than 45 were killed in the last two months alone.

According to the UN, 2022 is so far "the highest year for Palestinian fatalities in the West Bank, compared to the same period in the previous 16 years."

Dozens of arrests

The incident is the latest in a deadly week in Nablus, where Israeli forces have conducted regular raids and imposed tight restrictions on movement.

On Tuesday, five Palestinians were killed in an Israeli raid in the city targeting a nascent armed group called "The Lions' Den".

The group is a loose coalition of fighters that emerged in recent months, in parallel with a sharp rise in Israeli deadly raids on the West Bank.

Friday's deaths come as Israeli forces announced they would start easing a siege on Nablus that has been imposed for more than two weeks. Two entrances to the city were unmanned by soldiers on Friday morning allowing residents to move in and out freely, Palestinian media reported. 

On Thursday, Israeli troops arrested more than 40 Palestinians in sweeping military raids across the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip overnight.

The arrests focused on the town of Beit Ummar in the Hebron governorate, where 19 people were detained, including minors, according to Wafa. Others were held in Ramallah, Nablus, Bethlehem, Jenin and occupied East Jerusalem.

Five fishermen were detained at dawn by the Israeli navy in al-Sudaniya, northern Gaza.

According to the Palestinian Prisoner's Society, a high proportion of Thursday's arrests were children and young boys.

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