Israeli troops kill two Palestinians in West Bank amid tensions in Jerusalem

Photo: AP

Israeli troops killed two Palestinians and wounded a third after the men opened fire on a base in the occupied West Bank on Friday, the latest in a series of violent confrontations amid soaring tensions in Jerusalem, news wires reported.

Dozens of Palestinians in an east Jerusalem neighborhood are at risk of being evicted following a long legal battle with Israeli settlers, and Palestinian protesters have clashed with Israeli police in the city on a nightly basis since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The tensions have radiated across the region, with neighboring Jordan warning Israel against further “provocative” steps, and Iran seizing on the sensitivities around Jerusalem and encouraging the violence.

Israeli police said three attackers fired on the base near the northern West Bank town of Jenin. The Border Police and an Israeli soldier opened fire in response, killing two of the men and wounding a third, who was evacuated to a hospital.

Some 70,000 worshippers attended the final Friday prayers of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa, the Islamic endowment that oversees the site said. Thousands protested afterwards, waving the green flags of the Islamic militant group Hamas and chanting pro-Hamas slogans before dispersing peacefully.

Israelis and Palestinians are bracing for more violence in the coming days. Sunday night is “Laylat al-Qadr” or the “Night of Destiny,” the most sacred in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Worshippers will gather for intense nighttime prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, a flashpoint holy site sacred to Muslims and to Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount.

Sunday night is also the start of Jerusalem Day, a national holiday in which Israel celebrates its annexation of east Jerusalem and religious nationalists hold parades and other celebrations in the city. On Monday, an Israeli court is expected to issue a verdict on the evictions.

Israel's archenemy Iran was meanwhile marking its own Quds (Jerusalem) Day on Friday. The national holiday typically features anti-Israel protests and fiery speeches by Iranian leaders predicting Israel's demise. “The downward and declining movement of the Zionist regime has begun and will not stop," Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised address, cited by AP. He called for continuing armed “resistance” in the Palestinian territories and urged Muslim nations to support it.

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