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2 Palestinians killed at checkpoint after alleged stab attempt

Jan. 9, 2016 10:38 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 10, 2016 12:11 P.M.)
Al-Hamra checkpoint in the occupied West Bank. (Photo Credit: B'Tselem)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces on Saturday shot and killed two Palestinian men at the al-Hamra military checkpoint in the northern Jordan Valley, witnesses said.

Witnesses told Ma’an that the two men were stopped at the checkpoint -- also known as Beqaot -- and asked by military forces to exit their vehicle, at which point the forces shot them dead.

The witnesses said they did not see the men wielding knives, and told Ma’an the two were “killed in cold blood.” The men sold wholesale goods and were reportedly on their way to distribute merchandise to grocery shops, witnesses added.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma’an that two assailants attempted to stab Israeli soldiers stationed at the security crossing who opened fire in response to the attack.

The two Palestinians received medical treatment on site but were pronounced dead, the spokeswoman said.

No Israelis were injured in the incident.

The men were identified as as 26-year-old Ali Abu Maryam from the village of al-Jadida and 38-year-old Said Abu al-Wafa from the village of al-Zawiya, both southwest of Jenin in the northern West Bank.

The al-Hamra military checkpoint is located in the eastern outskirts of the Nablus district, south of the illegal Israeli settlements of Beqaot and Roi.

Israeli military checkpoints -- over 100 of which stand permanently across the occupied West Bank -- have been site to several attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals since a wave of unrest spread across the area in October.

Israeli military forces as well as civilians have been targeted in knife, vehicular, and shooting attacks that have left over 20 Israelis dead since Oct. 1. Nearly 150 Palestinians have been killed during the same time period.

Four Palestinians between the ages of 16 and 19 were shot dead in two separate incidents on Thursday after Israel's army said they attempted to stab Israeli soldiers at the Gush Etzion and Beit Einun junctions.  No Israelis were injured in either reported attack.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in response said the deaths marked a “dangerous escalation" and condemned the “continuous series of crimes and field executions by Netanyahu’s government against Palestinians."

Investigations into a number of recent Palestinian deaths concluded that Israeli policy implemented since the increase in attacks has resulted in unnecessary Palestinian deaths, according to international rights group Amnesty International.

Philip Luther, the group's Middle East and North Africa director, said following the increase in attacks in October that "intentional lethal force should only be used when absolutely necessary to protect life."

"Instead we are increasingly seeing Israeli forces recklessly flouting international standards by shooting to kill in situations where it is completely unjustified,” the director said.

Saturday’s alleged attack marks the second such incident at the al-Hamra checkpoint in the most recent wave of violence, with the majority of attacks taking place closer to the cities of Nablus, Ramallah, and Hebron.

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