Two Palestinian Teens Shot Dead In Israeli Fire In West Bank; Tension Brews Stronger Following Palestinian Prisoner's Death

 @AmruthaGayathri on April 04 2013 4:26 AM
Palestinian protest
A Palestinian protester throws a stone towards Israeli troops during clashes in Hebron on April. 3, 2013 REUTERS

Two Palestinian teenagers were shot and killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Tulkarm, after clashes between soldiers and youths, late Wednesday.

One teenager was found dead Wednesday while a second youth was confirmed dead Thursday, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA stated.

Israeli soldiers opened fire after youths pelted stones at an Israeli roadblock, Palestinian officials told the AFP news agency. The victims were identified as Amer Nassar, believed to be aged 16, and his cousin, Naji Balbisi, 17.

The officials also said that four more youths were wounded in the incident and taken for medical treatment in Tulkarm, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

An Israeli military spokesman said several Palestinians attacked a checkpoint with fire bombs Wednesday, prompting soldiers to open fire.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it was investigating the incident. No IDF soldiers were injured.

The clashes in West Bank closely followed an Israeli aerial strike on the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, in response to mortar shells fired at the western Negev desert in southern Israel Tuesday.

Tensions have been brewing in the West Bank following the death of a Palestinian inmate in an Israeli jail. Maysara Abu Hamdeya, 64, died of cancer in an Israeli hospital Tuesday while serving a life sentence for an attempt to bomb an Israeli cafe.

Thousands of Palestinians thronged the streets of east Jerusalem Wednesday to pay respects, as Abu Hamdeya’s body was brought to the city for an autopsy.

An initial autopsy performed early Wednesday in Tel Aviv found a malignant tumor in the vocal cords that had spread to the throat, chest, lungs, liver, spine and ribs, Haaretz reported. Isareli’s health ministry said no evidence of bruising was found on his body.

The post-mortem, performed in the presence of a Palestinian forensic expert, among others, concluded the death was caused by complications from cancer.

Abu Hamdeya was handed a life sentence in 2002 after being convicted of attempted murder, possession of weapons and membership in Hamas, viewed as a terrorist group by Israel and most Western governments. He was convicted of being one of the organizers of the attempted bombing of Jerusalem’s Kafit Cafe.

The Palestinian leadership has accused Israel of medical negligence, despite moves by the prison service to secure Abu Hamdeya's early release on compassionate grounds, according to an AFP report.

Across the Palestinian territories, a general strike was observed to mourn Abu Hamdeya's death, while thousands of prisoners fasted in mass protest, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) said as reported by AFP.

In Hebron, located in the southern West Bank, 30 km south of Jerusalem, schools, shops and offices were closed as part of a three-day general strike. The strike was fully observed in the northern city of Nablus and in east Jerusalem, but only partly in Ramallah and the Gaza Strip, AFP reported.

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