Josef Federman
The Associated Press
October 15, 2008 - 8:00pm

Israeli troops shot and killed a 21-year-old Palestinian allegedly preparing to carry out a firebomb attack in a West Bank village early Thursday. He was the third Palestinian killed by army fire in as many days.

Citing a recent wave of firebombings in the roughly 10-mile area between Jerusalem and Ramallah in the West Bank, the army has been stepping up efforts to stop them, including laying nighttime ambushes near potential targets.

Before dawn Thursday, an army patrol spotted three men carrying firebombs in Kufr Malek, a village near Ramallah, the military said. Troops shot one man after the three ignored warning shots, the army said. The other two escaped.

Nael Saleh Beirat, who witnessed the shooting, said troops moved into the village's cemetery early Thursday. He said troops opened fire after some young people on a rooftop threw rocks at army vehicles.

"The soldiers shot them from the cemetery. He was killed," said Beirat, a 31-year-old merchant.

Palestinian medics identified the dead man as Aziz Yousef, 21.

Also Thursday, a Palestinian man died in a Ramallah hospital a day after being shot by troops in the nearby Jelazoun refugee camp. The military said Mohammed Ramahi, 21, was shot as he prepared to lob a blazing firebomb at troops. Witnesses said Ramahi was merely a bystander.

The violence erupted after the funeral of a Palestinian teenager shot dead Tuesday. The army said he, too, was preparing to carry out a firebomb attack near a Jewish settlement.

Israel has been conducting peace talks with the West Bank government of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for nearly a year. Despite the talks, Israel frequently carries out military operations in the West Bank, saying Abbas has not done enough to control militants in the territory.

Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the Israeli military operations. He noted Israel has been observing a cease-fire with the Hamas militant group, which controls the Gaza Strip, and asked why Israel is "utterly unwilling to do the same in the West Bank."

Israel is working through Egyptian meditators to negotiate an extension to the Gaza truce, which expires in December.

In Gaza, a senior Hamas official said the movement has not decided whether to extend the truce. The official declined to be identified because Hamas is still considering its course of action.


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