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Nablus: 4 dead in 24 hours

March 21, 2010 12:09 P.M. (Updated: March 22, 2010 3:56 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israeli soldiers shot dead two Palestinians near Nablus in the northern West Bank on Sunday.

Palestinian security sources identified the victims as 19-year-old farmers Muhammad Faysal and Salah Muhammad Qawariq.

Both were from the Awarta village, southeast of Nablus, and were en route to farmland carrying agricultural tools and herbicide, the same sources said.

Israel's army said the two attempted to stab a soldier who was on a "routine patrol" near the Awarta military checkpoint. "In response, forces opened fire and identified a direct hit," an army spokeswoman told Ma'an.

Eyewitnesses said Israeli forces declared the area a "closed military zone" and deployed in neighboring Palestinian villages. Soldiers closed the main entrance to the village of Madama, south of Nablus, they said.

Red Crescent officials told Ma'an that the army informed them that two Palestinians were killed near the illegal Itamar settlement southeast of Nablus, asking them to come and evacuate the victims.

They were the third and fourth killed in 24 hours in the northern West Bank. A teenager died early Sunday from injuries sustained at a protest a day earlier, when another boy was shot dead. Useid Qadus, 16, was shot in the head by Israeli forces, medics said, and Muhammad Qadus, also 16, died of a wound to the chest shortly after the a protest in Iraq Burin, another village south of Nablus.

The Israeli military said its forces opened fire with riot-control means to disperse a violent riot, denying allegations its soldiers used live ammunition against the two teenagers.

Medical officials and human rights advocates have disputed the army's version of events, pointing to photographic evidence and an X-ray they say proves the army used live fire.
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