Israeli occupation soldiers stand guard at the Gush Etzion junction in the Israeli occupied West Bank on the main road between Jerusalem and Hebron on January 5, 2016 (AFP PHOTO)
Israeli occupation troops shot and killed two Palestinian men who tried to stab soldiers at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, the Israeli military said, part of a wave of violence now in its fourth month.
The soldiers were not injured in the confrontation at Bekaot checkpoint in the northern West Bank and Israeli forces "thwarted the attack and shot the assailants," said the military. The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed the two men were dead.
Israeli occupation forces or armed civilians have killed at least 139 Palestinians since Oct. 1. Most others have been killed in clashes with security forces. 21 Israelis and a U.S. citizen were also killed during this period.
The current wave of protests by Palestinians and repression by Israeli occupation forces started in late July when toddler Ali Dawabsha was burned to death and three other Palestinians were severely injured after their house in the occupied West Bank was set on fire by Israeli settlers.
Palestinian protests were also triggered by an increase in Jewish visitors to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is considered the third holiest site in Islam. Palestinians fear that Israel is preparing to allow Jewish prayers in the mosque, which are not currently allowed.
Settlement-building, racial discrimination, confiscation of identity cards, long queues at checkpoints, as well as daily clashes and the desecration of Al-Aqsa mosque, have been Palestinians' daily routine.
The anger of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem has increased in the last three years after the Israeli authorities allowed increasing numbers of Jewish settlers to storm the Al-Aqsa mosque.
On Friday an Arab Israeli citizen wanted for a Jan. 1 gun rampage in Tel Aviv, that had left three people dead, was killed in a shootout with police after a week-long manhunt. Authorities have so far said his motives were unclear.
The surge in violence has been fuelled by Palestinians' frustration over Israel's 48-year occupation of land they seek for an independent state, and the expansion of settlements in those territories which were captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
Palestinian leaders say a younger generation sees no hope for the future living under Israeli security restrictions and with a stifled economy. The latest round of U.S.-brokered peace talks collapsed in April 2014.
*The story has been edited by Ahram Online.