Mohamad Torokman / Reuters

Israeli troops kill 2 Palestinians in refugee camp

Gunfire and clashes with Israeli troops left two Palestinians dead and three wounded at the Qalandia refugee camp

Israeli troops shot dead at least two Palestinians in the West bank on Monday, and three wounded at a Palestinian refugee camp near Jerusalem early Monday, a Palestinian health official said.

According to Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman Mohammed Awawdeh, a 21-year-old and a 28-year-old were killed during an exchange of gunfire between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops at the Qalandia refugee camp. The camp straddles the area between the West Bank and Jerusalem's municipal boundaries.

The Israeli military said troops entered Qalandia to demolish the home of a Palestinian who the army says shot and killed an Israeli motorist in the West Bank this summer. The motorist had stopped to give the Palestinian directions to a nearby spring.

The presence of Israeli troops in the camp carrying out the demolition spurred Monday's clashes. The army said Palestinians opened fire at the Israeli forces and they returned fire at the attackers. Three "hits" were confirmed, the military said, without elaborating.

It was unclear if a third Palestinian was killed. Palestinian officials said one Palestinian was taken into Israeli custody. Military spokeswoman Libby Weiss said troops had made no arrests at the scene.

The latest killings come amid a wave of violent Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the last two months. Palestinian attacks, mainly stabbings, have killed 14 Israelis, and at least 83 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, including 53 Israel says were involved in assaults. The rest were killed in clashes with security forces.

The surge in violence across Israel, Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied West Bank has been fueled in part by a dispute over access to Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, a site holy to both Muslims and Jews, which is the single most contested piece of real estate in the region.

In recent days, Israel has renewed a criticized policy of demolishing homes belonging to Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly attacks against Israelis.

On Saturday, Israel demolished three homes in the West Bank belonging to attackers who killed an Israeli couple in front of their children in the West Bank on Oct. 1. Also that day, the military demolished a fourth home belonging to a man who killed an Israeli on his way home from a basketball game.

Wire services

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