RAMALLAH, Mar. 21 (JMCC & Reuters) - Four Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank
were buried on Sunday following violence that has exacerbated growing tensions.
The Israeli army shot dead two 19-year-old cousins who it said had tried to stab a soldier with pitchforks while on patrol near Nablus
in the occupied West Bank. Their family said they were only working on the land.
The latest killings come on the heels of the deaths of two Palestinian
teenagers in the village of Burin
after Israeli soldiers fired live
rounds during clashes with stone-throwing youths.
were shot on Saturday, Osaid al-Kaddous, 17, died of his wounds on
Sunday morning. Mohammed Kaddous, 16, was killed at the scene.
Palestinian officials accused Israel
of escalating tensions already running high over moves which Palestinians believe aim to deepen Israeli control over the territory.
Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib
called for an independent investigation into the killing of cousins Mohammed Qawariq and Saleh Qawariq on Sunday, citing witness accounts they had been shot only after being arrested.Mahmoud al-Aloul
, a senior figure in the Fatah
party led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
, said they had been killed in cold blood: Nobody can imagine that we can stand with our hands tied vis-a-vis what is happening, Aloul told around 1,500 mourners at their funeral in Awarta
, south of Nablus.
One of the bodies was wrapped in a yellow Fatah flag and the other in the green flag of the rival Hamas
Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said Israel had responded to international efforts to revive peace talks with more escalation that thwarted attempts to get negotiations going.
This was the bloodiest 24 hours for Palestinians in the West Bank for more than a year. The two youths killed by Israeli forces on Saturday were also buried in the nearby village of Iraq Burin, just a few kilometres (miles) from Awarta.
MEDICS SAY LIVE AMMUNITION USED
Palestinian medics said Mohammed Kaddous, 16, and Osaid Kaddous, 17, were killed by gunfire during a confrontation on Saturday between Israeli forces and Palestinian youths.
Ahmad Hammad, a Nablus doctor, showed a Reuters journalist a photograph of what he said was a bullet entry wound in Mohammed Kaddous's chest and an exit wound in his back.
Hamid al-Masri, a doctor who treated Osaid Kaddous, presented an X-ray which he said showed a metal bullet lodged in his brain.
The Israeli army, which said it was responding to people throwing stones, denied using live rounds, only rubber bullets.
Locals said the youths, who were not closely related despite their similar names, had not been taking part in the protest.
Villagers in Iraq Burin have been staging protests over Israeli-imposed restrictions on access to farmland that lies near the Jewish settlement of Har Bracha
. Jewish residents there say they are anxious to expand their land holdings rapidly.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad
strongly condemned the Israeli military escalation that had led to the four deaths, according to a statement issued by his office.
He warned that Israel was endangering the West Bank stability which his administration has sought to build.