Palestine says West Bank killings an attempt to scupper peace talks
RAMALLAH - The Palestinians on Thursday accused Israel of a "dangerous escalation" after the army killed two people in the West Bank, calling the violence a deliberate attempt to scupper peace talks.
"This dangerous Israeli escalation aims to thwart American and international efforts to move forward with the peace process, and leads the negotiations to a dead end," presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said in a statement published by the official WAFA news agency.
His remarks were made after two Palestinians were killed in clashes sparked by separate arrest raids by the Israeli army in the northern West Bank.
Late Wednesday, troops shot dead a member of the radical Islamic Jihad and wounded several others in a confrontation in Jenin refugee camp, sources on both sides said.
The army said troops had gone in "to arrest a suspect" but opened fire after being attacked with gunfire, homemade grenades and explosive devices. Several Palestinians were wounded and one died on the way to hospital, an army statement said.
In a second incident shortly before dawn in Qalqilya, a Palestinian security official was shot dead during an exchange of fire with Israeli troops who attempted to ambush him, a second army statement said.
They accused him of firing at troops "on numerous occasions" in recent weeks.
Palestinian security sources identified him as an intelligence officer and said he was on his way home when he was ambushed by the army.
Both men were laid to rest in their home cities on Thursday morning.
The latest deaths raised to 28 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops since the beginning of the year.
"The presidency condemns the murder crimes committed by the Israeli occupation army," Abu Rudeina said, calling on the international community to intervene to calm the situation.
Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians resumed in late July for the first time in nearly three years but have come close to collapse in a row over settlement building.