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Two Palestinians killed, three Israelis wounded in continuing violence

The Israeli army has killed two Palestinians and three Israelis have been wounded in Palestinian attacks amid continued violence. Eleven Israelis and 72 Palestinians have been killed since mid-September.

Israeli soldiers shot and killed 72-year-old Palestinian woman Tharwat Sharawi after she allegedly tried to ram them with her car at a West Bank gas station on Friday.

The military said the car slowed down and then sped toward the soldiers, who were able to get out of the way before firing at the vehicle. The woman's family contested the claim that she would have tried to ram the soldiers. A photo of the car showed nine bullet holes in the back windshield.

Separately, a Palestinian man in Gaza was killed in clashes with Israel on the border.

Elsewhere, in the West Bank city of Hebron, a 16 and 18 year old Israeli were shot and wounded by an unknown assailant. "Two Israelis were shot at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron," an army statement said. The army said it was searching for the attacker on the Hebron religious site, venerated by both Muslims and Jews.

Hebron has a population of 200,000 Palestinians with about 500 Israeli settlers living in the center, protected by the army.

Also on Friday, an Israeli man in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit El was stabbed and wounded outside a supermarket.

Security forces fired teargas and live ammunition into the air as regular Friday Palestinian protests erupted in the West Bank, with reports of more than a dozen Palestianians wounded.

No end to violence

Friday's violence

adds to nearly two months of heightened conflict

between Palestinians and Israelis,

triggered by unrest at the al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Jews the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem.

The shrine is revered by both Muslims and Jews.

The violence has been compounded by continued frustration by Palestinians at a dead peace process and occupation of their lands in violation of international law.

Israel has accused Palestinian political and religious leaders of

fomenting the violence.

Israel has struggled to respond to the random attacks, with the army responding by using tough security measures.

Since mid-September, there have been near daily attacks on Israeli civilians or soldiers, killing 11 people. Many are stabbings, but in several instances Palestinians have used their cars to ram people.

Meanwhile, 72 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, 45 of whom Israel said were involved in or preparing attacks. The other 27 Palestinians were killed during protests or accidents.

Obama and Netanyahu

The escalating violence comes ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington on Monday to meet with US President Barrack Obama.

Obama administration officials on Thursday said the president had made a "realistic assessment" that peace cannot be reached between Israelis and Palestinians in the remainder of his term, which runs until February 2017.

Netanyahu's first meeting with Obama in 13 months is likely to center on security and increasing US defense aid to Israel after the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu's vocal opposition to the deal has strained relations with Obama, but the administration is trying to show that Democrats are not less pro-Israel than Republicans ahead of elections next year.

The US provides Israel with $3.1 billion in defense aid per year, but Tel Aviv wants $5 billion per year for the next ten years.

cw/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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