Israeli soldiers chasing rock throwers opened fire at an uninvolved Palestinian car early Tuesday, killing a 15-year-old boy and injuring four others, officials said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman in Tel Aviv admitted that the shot Palestinians were innocent passers-by mistakenly targeted by soldiers who believed they were chasing a group of Palestinians involved in a rock and firebomb attack at Israeli motorists.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry quickly condemned the shooting as another allegedly deliberate "field execution," saying it brought to 220 the number of Palestinians killed in a wave of violence since October.

The Ministry said the shooting came at a time when the "extreme-right government" of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was rejecting and foiling all international efforts to revive a "serious and genuine peace process," including a French initiative.

Israel says that the vast majority of Palestinian killed are assailants, shot while attacking or trying to attack Israelis in 290 stabbings, shootings, vehicle and other attacks. Thirty-three Israelis have been killed in the attacks.

Witnesses said Mahmoud Badran, 15, from a village west of Ramallah, and the other Palestinians had been on their way home before dawn from the iftar meal, which breaks the fast of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan after dark, when their car suddenly came under fire.  

The Israeli military added that three civilians were injured in the massive stone-throwing attack on road 443 around Jerusalem, which partly passes through the West Bank.

Witnesses said a dozen cars were damaged in the attack. 

They said masked Palestinians pelted Israeli motorists with large rocks and Molotov cocktails after pouring oil on the road, injuring three people - one Israeli and a tourist couple. 

"Nearby forces acted in order to protect additional passing vehicles from immediate danger and fired towards suspects," the military spokeswoman said, adding: "It appears that uninvolved bystanders were mistakenly hit during the pursuit."

She said the Israeli army was investigating the incident.

Meanwhile, a large Israeli force drove into a village near the West Bank town of Qalqiliya and demolished the family home of a Palestinian knife attacker, who had killed an American tourist and injured a dozen passers-by in a March stabbing spree in Tel Aviv.

Bashar Masalha, 22, started stabbing people in the ancient port of Jaffa in the south of the city, after which he ran northwards along the seaside promenade and stabbed more, until he was shot dead. 

Rights group slam the Israeli policy of demolishing militants' homes as a form of "collective punishment," which is considered illegal under international law.

Israel's right-wing government insists it is one of the few means at its disposal to deter potential attackers willing to sacrifice their own lives to kill Israelis to resist the occupation.

Left-liberal critics inside Israel warn the measure may be counterproductive as it only angers Palestinians.

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