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As violence in the occupied West Bank intensifies, Israel’s actions result in the death of two Palestinians

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Two more Palestinians were killed Tuesday by the Israeli army during a raid in the occupied West Bank, adding to the bloody violence that has gripped the region in recent months.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health said that the two men who were killed in the village of Deir al-Hatab in the West Bank were Saud Abdullah Saud and Muhammad Abu Deira, without giving their ages.

The Israeli army claimed that the gunmen fired at an Israeli position near the Elon Moreh settlement, south of the Palestinian city of Nablus. Israeli soldiers on patrol fired their weapons, killing two Palestinians.

Palestinian media reported that a third man was in the car and fled the area. Israeli security forces said they were looking for him and allegedly found two M-16 rifles and a handgun at the scene.

The local armed group in the Balata refugee camp, a militant stronghold near Nablus, said the two men were armed members. The organization said that Saud had previously spent 15 years in Israeli prisons.

“We fought like soldiers and we promise we will always be soldiers,” Saud said in a videotape after his release from prison last spring.

Tuesday’s killing followed a week of unusually high violence in Israel and the West Bank, following a raid by Israeli police on Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site, the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Last week, the Israeli military bombed positions linked to the Palestinian Hamas movement in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip after they reportedly launched a barrage of rockets into Israel. The mosque sits atop a disputed hill and is revered as the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism.

In an underscore of the combustible situation in the West Bank, two British sisters of Israeli descent and their mother were killed when their car came under fire near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank last Friday.

Lucy Dee’s mother died of her injuries on Monday and was buried in the Kfar Etzion settlement, south of Jerusalem, on Tuesday.

Hundreds of mourners swarmed the funeral, sang and swayed as Lucy’s husband, Leo, and his remaining children wept on the stage — their family of seven reduced to four.

So far this year, 94 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank, according to an Associated Press tally. During that time, 19 people were killed in Palestinian attacks on Israelis.

In a move towards de-escalating the situation, Netanyahu’s office said on Tuesday that the authorities will prevent Jews from visiting Al-Aqsa Mosque until the end of the holy month of Ramadan. This is the norm for the last ten days of the holiday when Muslims often pray at the site overnight.

Jews are allowed to visit the compound, but not perform prayers in it, under long-standing agreements. But such visits, which have increased in numbers in recent years, have sparked outrage, particularly because some Jews are often seen praying quietly.

The rare juxtaposition of the Jewish holiday of Passover and Ramadan brought dozens of observant Jews to the site last week and fueled tensions that have spiraled into unrest in Jerusalem – and a regional standoff.

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