Middle East

Two Palestinians shot dead in knife attack on Israeli soldiers

 Two Palestinians attacked Israeli soldiers manning a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank before being shot dead on Saturday, an army spokeswoman said.

The attack occurred in the north of the Jordan Valley, the spokeswoman said.

Twenty-two Israelis, an American and an Eritrean have been killed in Palestinian attacks including stabbings, car rammings and gunfire targeting security forces and civilians since October 1. At the same time, 146 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, most while carrying out attacks.

Israel has employed a raft of security and punitive measures in a bid to stem attacks.

The army overnight demolished a house near the West Bank city of Hebron belonging to a Palestinian who was shot dead on October 3 after killing an Israeli rabbi, the spokeswoman said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November vowed to expedite house demolitions in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, which he said were "one of the most efficient tools" in discouraging Palestinian attacks.

The controversial practice is widely used in the West Bank and resumed in east Jerusalem in November after a five-year hiatus.

Also on Saturday, Israel returned the bodies of four Palestinians killed on Thursday after two attacks in the southern West Bank.

They are set to be buried later in the village of Sair, close to Hebron, according to Palestinian sources.

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