IRAQ BURIN, West Bank, March 21 (Ali Sawafta/Reuters) - Mourners grieving the loss of two Palestinian teenagers killed by Israeli forces this weekend directed their anger on Sunday at Jewish settlers living on occupied land next to their village in the West Bank
Several thousand people turned out for the funerals of Mohammed Kaddous, 16, and Osaid Kaddous, 17, who were shot by Israeli forces on Saturday in the village of Iraq Burin
, which has been occupied by Israel for 42 years.
Teacher Fathi Faqih remembered Mohammed Kaddous as his best student. He dreamt of being an engineer or doctor. It's a loss for Iraq Burin and Palestine, he said.
The Israeli army said it was firing only rubber bullets at a crowd throwing stones and denied troops used live ammunition. Palestinian doctors who treated the two showed a Reuters journalist images which they said proved live rounds had been used.
Iraq Burin is one of a growing number of places where Palestinians protest regularly against Jewish colonization of occupied land. Locals call it popular resistance. They often throw rocks and sometimes petrol bombs, but rarely use guns.
The Palestinians of Iraq Burin focus their anger at the nearby settlement of Har Bracha
(Mount of Blessing), one of more than 100 settlements
across the West Bank.
The aim of the settlers is to get our land, said Abdel Rahim Kaddous, head of the village council, who like many villagers shares the same family name. They want to take more of our land. The army protects them. They exploit this.
The youth protect our land.
One youth at the funeral said the village would continue its struggle. He would not give his name for fear of arrest: The settlers come to take our land, he said. We won't let them. We will continue to resist and to push them out.
On the website of Har Bracha, the settlers, who say they number 90 families, explain their attachment to living in a spot with biblical significance for Jews and their fears that Israel may withdraw from territory that has not been built on by Jews: It is urgent for us to expand as much as possible, they say.
The international community says the settlements are illegal and pose an obstacle to peace by stunting the viability of a future Palestinian state.
Witnesses said Mohammed and Osaid Kaddous, who were not directly related, had not taken part in Saturday's protest. They had just returned from Nablus
when they were hit by what Palestinian medics say were live bullets.
The Israeli army denied that: Live fire was not used. The Palestinians were hurt by rubber bullets used during the riot.
It said the Palestinians had incited a confrontation and dozens of them had attacked security forces by throwing stones.
Mohammed and Osaid Kaddous were the first Palestinians to die as a result of the recent wave of protests that has swept both the West Bank and East Jerusalem
The bodies, wrapped in Palestinian flags, were carried through the village before burial on Sunday. Mourners declared them martyrs and chanted defiant slogans against Israel
. (Writing by Tom Perry, editing by Alastair Macdonald)