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Israeli troops kill two Palestinians at West Bank religious site

Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli forces also killed a Palestinian suspected of killing an Israeli rabbi and a soldier on Sunday
Mourners carry the body of Raid Hamdan, 21, who was shot by Israeli forces overnight Wednesday (AFP)

Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces near a flashpoint religious site in the occupied West Bank overnight on Wednesday, the Palestinian health ministry has said.

The ministry said Raid Hamdan, 21, and Zaid Nouri, 20, died after being shot by Israeli troops near the Joseph Tomb's site close to the Palestinian city of Nablus.

Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli forces also killed a Palestinian suspected of killing an Israeli rabbi and a soldier in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, the Israeli Shin Bet internal security service said.

The Israeli army said in a statement that explosives were hurled from a vehicle at soldiers guarding Jewish worshippers visiting the Joseph Tomb's site late on Tuesday.

"Troops responded with live fire towards the vehicle," the statement said.

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There were no reports of injuries on the Israeli side, the AFP news agency reported.

The site has long been a source of tension in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Jews believe the site contains the remains of the biblical patriarch Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Jacob.

Muslims believe an Islamic cleric, Sheikh Yussef Dweikat, was buried there two centuries ago.

The Israeli army regularly escorts groups of Jewish pilgrims to the site, often sparking clashes.

Mourning strike

Palestinians declared a mourning strike in the Nablus area following the incident, also citing the death of the Palestinian suspect Omar Amin Abu Laila in a shootout earlier on Tuesday. 

Troops, police and security agents surrounded a building in the West Bank village of Abwein, north of Ramallah, in which Abu Laila was hiding, according to a Shin Bet statement.

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"The assailant opened fire at our forces and was killed during the exchange of fire," the statement said, adding that no Israeli personnel were injured.

Villagers said that the Israeli forces had first called through megaphones for the suspect to surrender, AFP reported.

In Sunday's attacks, near the Israeli settlement of Ariel, an assailant fatally stabbed soldier Gal Keidan, 19 and stole his weapon, the army said at the time. 

He then fired at Israeli motorists, hitting 47-year-old rabbi Ahiad Ettinger, a resident of the illegal Eli settlement, who later died of his wounds.

A second soldier was also seriously injured.

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