Three Palestinians shot dead in occupied West Bank

14-year-old boy among three killed by Israeli security forces amid continuing violence.

Israeli soldiers have shot dead three Palestinians in the illegally occupied West Bank, one of them a 14-year-old boy, amid continued raids by the Israeli armed forces following a series of deadly attacks inside Israel.

The three were killed on Wednesday, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The Israeli military confirmed the 14-year-old’s death in the evening, saying he had thrown a petrol bomb at the soldiers who “used live ammunition in order to stop the immediate threat”.

Near Ramallah, the Palestinian Health Ministry said another Palestinian was killed in clashes that erupted after Israeli forces carried out an arrest raid. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military or police.

Footage showed dozens of Palestinians throwing rocks at Israeli armoured vehicles, and occasional gunfire could be heard.

The Shin Bet domestic security service said three Palestinians planning to carry out an imminent attack against Israelis were arrested during the raid. About 20 people described as ‘terror’ suspects were detained in Wednesday’s operations, according to military and police statements.

Earlier on Wednesday, Muhammad Hassan Muhammad Assaf, a 34-year-old Palestinian lawyer, was also reported shot by the military. The health ministry said Assaf worked for a department of the Palestine Liberation Organisation  that documents and lobbies against Israeli settlement activity on Palestinian land. He was shot in the chest in Nablus, the ministry said.

Israel has stepped up raids and arrests across the West Bank after four attacks in Israel in the past three weeks that left 14 people dead, including a shooting last week in the centre of Tel Aviv.

Mustafa Barghouti, the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, told Al Jazeera that the killings were a “dangerous escalation”.

“To me, these confrontations are leading to something that could become a wide-ranging Intifada,” he said in an interview from Ramallah.

More than 20 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since January, according to the Reuters news agency.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it held Israel “fully responsible for the repercussions” of the military’s actions, and a spokesperson for President Mahmoud Abbas appealed for the international community to intervene.

The latest bloodshed coincided with the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when Israeli-Palestinian violence has erupted in the past, and last May spiralled into an 11-day assault on the besieged Gaza Strip.

The war led to the deaths of 232 people and significant destruction to the already impoverished territory.

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