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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

West Bank Tense After Killings, Clashes

HIZME, West Bank -- One Palestinian was killed and three wounded when three Israelis opened fire in a West Bank village Tuesday, sparking clashes in which Palestinians threw stones at Israeli troops, who responded with tear gas.

The army said the shooting occurred during a confrontation between soldiers and villagers in the village of Hizme just north of Jerusalem, in an area that is under joint Israeli and Palestinian control.

It heightened fears of a new wave of violence in the West Bank, which is already tense because of Israel's plan to begin construction of a new Jewish neighborhood in east Jerusalem. Palestinians warn that construction could derail the peace process.

Witnesses said the gunmen were dressed in civilian clothes. Israeli TV said they were from a crack undercover unit known as "duvdevan,'' or "cherry.''

Ali Salah a-Din, who was hospitalized with a wound in his leg, said he thought the three men who entered his village armed with handguns and speaking Hebrew were Jewish settlers.

They walked up to their house, grabbed his nephew and "hit him with the butts of their guns,'' he said. When confronted by members of the household, he said, the men opened fire.

Soldiers posted at a nearby checkpoint refused to help, and an army jeep entered the village and left with the gunmen, he added.

An army statement said the Israeli troops had been "attacked'' by Palestinian residents, so they opened fire. The statement stressed that "it was a shooting by Israeli soldiers and not a shooting by civilians.''

After the shooting, Palestinian residents began throwing stones at the large numbers of Israeli soldiers and police deployed in the area. The Israelis responded with tear gas and tried several times to storm the village, drawing a hail of large rocks each time. After about an hour the area was declared a closed military zone and the clashes died down. No further injuries were reported.