Palestinian gunmen kill Israeli guard in West Bank

Palestinian gunmen kill Israeli guard in West Bank

Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli guard at the entrance to a settlement in the occupied West Bank, and Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian in clashes nearby, officials said on Saturday.

In recent weeks, a surge in violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories has raised fears of a slide back to wider conflict.

Two Palestinian gunmen stepped out of their vehicle late on Friday and shot one of the guards before fleeing the scene, Israeli officials said.

According to Shin Bet intelligence agency, the two were arrested in a nearby Palestinian village.

Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian in the northern West Bank village of Azzun in an apparently unrelated incident after the attack in Ariel, the Palestinian health ministry said. Israel s military said soldiers there shot at suspects who had thrown firebombs at them.

In the past few weeks, Israeli authorities said that fiveteen people have been killed by Arab attackers in Israel and the West Bank. Israeli forces have killed at least 40 Palestinians since February, when tensions started to rise, according to a UN agency.

The prime minister, Naftali Bennett, has called the attacks a new wave of terrorism. Hamas, the Islamist group that rules blockaded Gaza, did not claim responsibility for the incident in Ariel, but praised the attack, saying it was partly a response to Israeli police raids on Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound.

The compound, Islam's third holiest site, sits atop a plateau in the old city. It is known to Jews as the Temple Mount and is the holiest site in Judaism and the vestige of two ancient Jewish temples.

There were repeated confrontations at the site this month when Ramadan overlapped with the Jewish celebration of Passover, which brought more Muslim and Jewish visitors to the heavily policed compound.

Ariel is one of the largest settlements Israel has built in the West Bank, territory it captured in a 1967 war, along with East Jerusalem and Gaza, which Palestinians want for a future state.