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Israeli soldier kills Palestinian after checkpoint confrontation – officials

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RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – A Palestinian driver was shot dead at an Israeli army checkpoint near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials said, after what Israel’s military said was a confrontation between the man and one of the soldiers.

In a statement, the military said a man arrived in a stolen vehicle at the Rantis checkpoint. During an inspection of the vehicle, it said, the driver assaulted one of the soldiers and tried to snatch his weapon, leading another soldier to shoot at the suspect, killing him.

The statement said the military was reviewing the circumstances of the incident, in which one of the soldiers was lightly injured and taken to hospital for further treatment.

The Palestinian health ministry, which is based in Ramallah, identified the Palestinian man as 29-year-old Mahdi Biadsa.

A spokesperson for Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, said the incident showed that “resistance in the West Bank is ready and able to confront the crimes of the occupation”, though Hamas did not claim responsibility.

Violence in the West Bank, among territories Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war and which Palestinians want as the core of an independent state, has risen sharply during the past year. Israel has intensified its military raids amid a spate of deadly street attacks by Palestinians in Israeli cities.

The Palestinian health ministry said at least 158 Palestinians in the West Bank, where Palestinians exercise limited self-rule, and Gaza have been killed by Israel since January. Israel’s foreign ministry said 20 Israelis and two foreign nationals have been killed by Palestinians in the same period.

(Reporting by Ali Sawafta and Henriette Chacar; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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