Violent clashes have erupted around the West Bank after a Palestinian man was killed overnight by Israeli gunfire near the village of Beitunia. A mortar bomb fired by Palestinians meanwhile struck the Jewish settlement of Atzmona in the southern Gaza Strip this afternoon. An Israeli army spokesman said that no one was injured in the attack, but an electricity pylon was damaged. Israel has retaliated against similar incidents in the Gaza Strip.

In Beitunia, Palestinian witnesses and security officials said that four Israeli soldiers were wounded in an exchange of fire as they tried to enter the village, which lies between Ramallah and Jerusalem, but the army categorically denied it suffered any casualties. The army said a military jeep had been shot at in the area and that the army had returned fire. Two Palestinian schools in the village were evacuated during a three-hour gunfight between armed Palestinians and Israeli troops.

Yesterday, Taysir al-Amuri, a 45-year-old Bedouin, was shot dead by Israeli machine-gun bullets after being caught up in another gunfight in the area. The Israeli army said that it had fired on a "suspicious figure" suspected of planting a bomb near the Beitunia bypass road. But residents described the man as psychologically disturbed and said that he had not been involved in the gunfight.