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Published: Thursday January 2, 2014 MYT 3:55:02 PM
Updated: Thursday January 2, 2014 MYT 3:56:02 PM

Palestinian, 85, dies after clashes with Israelis - eyewitnesses

NABLUS, West Bank (Reuters) - An 85-year old Palestinian died on Thursday after inhaling tear gas fired by the Israeli army to disperse local protesters landed in his home in the occupied West Bank, local eyewitnesses told Reuters.

He is the first Palestinian casualty of the conflict with Israel in 2014 following a violent clash with soldiers on the outskirts of the village of Kufr Qaddoum near Nablus in the northern West Bank.

An Israeli military spokeswoman had no immediate comment but was checking for details of the clash.

Youths in the village were on Wednesday celebrating the 49th anniversary of the founding of the Fatah movement, the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, when the clash erupted.

Villagers told Reuters the soldiers fired dozens of tear gas canisters at them, one of which entered Saeed Jaser Ali's home. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died early on Thursday.

Ali's death comes as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to return to the region on Thursday to aid peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians he helped revive in July after a three-year hiatus.

The negotiations have made no outward progress, and Palestinian officials have repeatedly threatened to take Israel before the International Criminal Court for Jewish settlement activity and killing civilians.

Violence in the West Bank has increased in recent months, and at least 19 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed in the occupied territory since the negotiations got under way after a three-year break.

Human rights group B'Tselem, which monitors the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said that the number of killings in the West Bank in 2013 had jumped three-fold over the previous year.

(Reporting by Abed Qusini in Nablus, Writing by Noah Browning; editing by Patrick Graham)

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