By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent
Last update - 14:48 21/03/2010
Israel Defense Forces soldiers on Sunday shot dead two Palestinians who attacked them with pitchforks near the West Bank city of Nablus, bringing to four the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in 24 hours.
According to initial reports, soldiers from the IDF's Nahshon Battalion were stationed south of the Israeli settlement of Itamar in order to protect Palestinians plowing their land.
The soldiers opened fire after two Palestinians tried to attack them. the soldiers were not harmed.
Two men tried to stab a soldier during a routine patrol near the Awarta security crossing near Nablus. The force opened fire and confirmed their death," an army spokeswoman said.
Earlier Sunday, a 19-year-old Palestinian died of wounds sustained one day earlier when IDF troops opened fire on demonstrators south of Nablus.
Oseyd Abd al-Nasser Kadus was hit in the midriff by a rubber-coated bullet and was taken to the hospital in Nablus, where he had been listed in critical condition.
Another youth, Ibrahim Abd al-Khader Kadus, 16, died Saturday after being hit in the heart by a rubber-coated bullet fired by IDF troops.
The two were wounded clash after IDF soldiers tried to prevent clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians near the village of Iraq Burin, south of Nablus. Villagers own land that borders the nearby settlement of Bracha.
The head of the local village council, Abd al-Rahim Kadus, told Haaretz that every Saturday settlers come to the village, attack the locals and destroy property, leading to clashes with the Palestinians.
Israeli troops usually intervene to break up the fighting, which then turns into a confrontation between young villagers and the soldiers.
The Palestinians maintain that the two teenagers were hit by live ammunition and that the soldiers prevented Palestinian medical staff from evacuating them. The two teenagers were subsequently rushed to the hospital in private cars.
The IDF began an investigation into the incident, which marked the first killing of a Palestinian in months. Army sources told Haaretz that the Palestinians' claims that live rounds were fired is false.
The human rights group B'Tselem, which sent an investigator to the hospital in Nablus, said that both casualties were the result of live rounds.
In recent weeks demonstrations have taken place in the area by villagers, who have also pelted soldiers with stones.
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