Israeli troops shot dead on Saturday two Palestinian terrorists who tried to stab soldiers at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank, the military said, as a surge in violence showed no sign of abating.
Now in its fourth month, the wave of bloodshed has raised fears of wider escalation a decade after the last Palestinian uprising subsided. The military said in a statement the two Palestinians had tried to stab soldiers at Bekaot checkpoint.
The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed the two men were dead.
A Palestinian taxi driver, who asked not be identified, disputed the military’s account, saying the men had not got out of their vehicle.
“We were three cars awaiting our turn to cross, the two men who were killed were in the car ahead of mine. The soldiers signaled to them to come forward. When they got there, they opened fire at the car,” he said.
A military spokeswoman, asked about the taxi driver’s account, said the incident was still being reviewed.
Since Oct. 1 Israeli forces or armed civilians have killed at least 139 Palestinians, 89 of whom authorities described as assailants. Most others have been killed in clashes with security forces.
Palestinian stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks have killed 21 Israelis and a U.S. citizen. That number will rise if authorities deem a Jan. 1 Tel Aviv shooting that killed three people as a pro-Palestinian attack.
Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan indicated that was indeed the motive of the shooter, an Israeli Arab citizen who was killed in a shootout with police on Friday after a week-long manhunt. Palestinian militant groups have mourned him as a martyr.
“The assessment forming is that this was a nationalistic terrorist attack,” Erdan told Channel Two News