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UN office concerned by West Bank deaths

Jan. 2, 2011 8:03 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 4, 2011 12:17 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The office of UN Middle East envoy Robert Serry on Sunday expressed concern over the deaths of two Palestinians in 48 hours in incidents involving the Israeli army.

"We are very worried that two Palestinians have lost their lives in recent days in incidents involving Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, including an unarmed woman engaged in protests against the barrier at whom tear gas was fired and a man shot and killed at a checkpoint," said a spokesman for Serry, Richard Miron.

Miron said the UN Special Coordinator was "awaiting the full facts of these tragic fatalities."

"Under international law Israel must take all precautions to ensure the protection of the civilian population and refrain from the excessive use of force," he added.

On Saturday, 36-year-old Jawaher Abu Rahmah died after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers at demonstrators in an anti-wall rally in Bil'in on Friday.

Abu Rahmah arrived at Ramallah Medical Compound unconscious and doctors were unable to revive her, popular committee spokesman Jonathan Pollak said.

A day later, Israeli soldiers fatally shot Mahmoud Muhammad Dharaghme, 21, at Hamra checkpoint east of Nablus in the northern West Bank.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers shot Daraghme because he approached the checkpoint in an unauthorized lane, carrying a glass bottle, and did not heed orders to stop. Soldiers acted according to operational procedure, she said.

Palestinian Red Crescent medics said the 21-year-old's body was riddled with bullets.

Palestinian Authority presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina on Sunday condemned the killings, which he described as a "dangerous escalation."

"The Israeli escalation in the last two days is aimed at demolishing any hope of a peace process, and we ask the US administration and the international community to take necessary steps to stop the dangerous escalation against the area," he told AFP.

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