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RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: Israeli forces killed a child in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on Tuesday, the Palestinian health ministry reported, as Israel said police officers fired on people throwing Molotov cocktails.

The health ministry announced “the death of the child Adam Essam Shaker Ayyad, 15, with a bullet in the chest fired by the occupation soldiers during the aggression on Bethlehem at dawn today.”

Israel’s military said rocks and Molotov cocktails were thrown at border police officers during an operation in Bethlehem’s Dheisheh refugee camp.

“The forces fired toward Molotov cocktails (sic) hurlers who risked their lives, hits were identified,” the army said in a statement.

The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, reported clashes erupted when Israeli forces entered Dheisheh, in the southern occupied West Bank, to search houses.

Ayyad is the third Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank since the start of the year.

On Monday two Palestinian men were shot dead in the northern city of Jenin, when clashes broke out as the army demolished the homes of two Palestinians accused of killing an Israeli soldier in September.

More than 150 Palestinians and 26 Israelis were killed last year across Israel and the occupied West Bank, including Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, according to an AFP tally.

Israeli forces kill two Palestinians

In December, the United Nations said 2022 was the deadliest year in the occupied West Bank since its records began in 2005.

The inauguration last week of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, has sparked fears of a military escalation in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Two of Netanyahu’s extreme-right coalition partners have taken charge of critical powers regarding the occupied West Bank.

Bezalel Smotrich holds the portfolio for Israeli settlement policy in the territory, while Itamar Ben-Gvir serves as national security minister with powers over the border police force which operate there.

Both have a history of inflammatory remarks about Palestinians.

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