JERUSALEM -- Israeli soldiers shot and killed two West Bank Palestinians during clashes Saturday, and the Gaza Strip remained sealed off to prevent violence during the Jewish New Year holiday Rosh Hashana.
In addition to preventing Gaza Palestinians from entering Israel, authorities increased the number of police in Jerusalem and resort areas for the two-day holiday, which began at sundown Friday. No serious incidents were reported inside Israel.
In Jerusalem's walled Old city, thousands of Jews gathered in the bright sunshine for Rosh Hashana prayers at the Western Wall, a massive retaining wall from the ancient Second Temple complex that is venerated as the holiest site in Judaism.
Jews also crowded some 8,000 synagogues across the country for services marking the beginning of the Jewish new year of 5750.
In an isolated incident, a 35-year-old Israeli man returning from the Western Wall was slightly wounded by a piece of metal thrown at him, Israel Radio reported. He was treated at the scene and continued on his way, the radio said.
Throughout the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip Saturday, Palestinians observed a general strike to protest the United States' support of Israel. Shops and businesses were closed, and taxis and buses did not run.
In the northern West Bank village of Maythalun, Abdallah Rabaya'h was killed during clashes with troops who entered the village to clear stone roadblocks, Israel Radio and Palestinian sources reported. A 26-year-old Arab was wounded in the incident, they said.
In Nablus, the largest West Bank city, Silham Mabrukeh, 20, was killed and six others wounded by army gunfire during an evening clash, Palestinian sources said.
Elsewhere in the occupied territories, at least 14 Arabs were wounded in confrontations with troops, Palestinian sources said.
Army spokesmen could not be reached for comment on the incidents.
Also Saturday, the mayors of the West Bank towns of Bethlehem, Beit Sahur and Beit Jala issued a statement condemning harsh measures taken by the army recently against Palestinians who refuse to pay taxes to the Israeli Civil Administration.
In the last two week, the army has confiscated the stocks of several shops in Beit Sahur whose owners refuse to pay taxes. Beit Sahur, which remained under curfew for a third day Saturday, has been one of the most militant communities in the tax revolt against Israeli occupation.
The army declared the Gaza Strip a closed military zone on Friday, preventing Palestinians from entering Israel until 4 a.m. Monday. Israeli residents of Gaza can come and go freely while journalists must be accompanied by an army escort.
Thousands of Gazans cross into Israel each day to work, but during Jewish holy days and national holidays it has become a customary precaution to seal off the Gaza Strip and sometimes the West Bank.
Since the start of the 21-month-old uprising, at least 667 Palestinians, 37 Israelis and three foreigners have been killed.