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Two Palestinians shot dead during Israeli raid on Qalandiya refugee camp

The Israeli army said that it shot two men after they attempted to ram their cars into soldiers during a camp raid in Qalandiya
Palestinians stand next to cars used in an attempted ramming attack against Israeli soldiers (AFP)

Two Palestinian men were shot dead during an Israeli army raid on the Qalandiya refugee camp near Ramallah in a predawn raid on Wednesday.

Residents of the camp told local media outlets that hundreds of Israeli soldiers stormed the camp from all sides at around 1am local time (2300 GMT) and left later at 4.30am (0230 GMT), after ransacking homes and stores and clashing with the Palestinian youth.

In a statement, the Israeli army said the two men who were shot had attempted to run them over with their cars.

“Tonight, during an operation to make arrests of wanted Palestinians and to seize arms in Qalandiya refugee camp, two attempted car-ramming attacks were made against security forces in two different parts of the camp,” the statement said.

The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed the deaths of Ahmad Jahajha, 21, and Hekmat Hamdan, 29.

Four other Palestinians were injured, the ministry said.

Witnesses told local news agency Maan that Israeli forces left Jahajha to “bleed to death” before taking his body and detaining another resident who had been shot and injured.

Jahajha was a media studies student at al-Asriyya College in Ramallah.

The Israeli military said three soldiers were wounded, including one seriously. However, the army added that it was investigating whether the injuries were caused by stray bullets fired by other troops.

Two cars with a large number of bullet holes were later seen in the camp, which is located near the checkpoint of the same name that marks the entrance to Jerusalem. 

Qalandiya camp was established in 1949 in the wake of the creation of Israel and has grown into a densely populated town with 11,000 registered refugees.

Last month at Qalandiya, Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinians when heavy clashes erupted during an operation to demolish the home of an alleged attacker, part of a series of punitive demolitions.

The latest killings increased the Palestinian death toll to 121, said Maan, while AFP put the number at 119.

The raid was the latest round in violence that began on 1 October, with almost daily knife, gun and car-ramming attacks carried out by the Palestinians against Israelis.

The army has been criticised by several human rights organisations for implementing a “shoot-to-kill” policy against alleged Palestinian attackers and protestors.

In the same period, 17 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean man were killed.

On Tuesday, the UN human rights office in New York voiced deep concern over an "unacceptable" wave of Palestinians attacking Israelis, but also criticised Israeli authorities' reported "excessive use of force" in response to the attacks.

"We continue to be gravely concerned at the unrelenting violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in Israel," Cecile Pouilly, spokeswoman for the UN human rights office, told reporters.

"We call on both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to act decisively to de-escalate the situation," she added.

Pouilly warned that although international attention appeared to be waning, "the level of killings, injuries and arrests has continued, with an average of one person dying every day."

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