Israeli soldiers who opened fire at a group of stone throwers along a major Jerusalem bypass road on Tuesday apparently killed an innocent Palestinian bystander, an Israeli military spokeswoman said.

The casualty was a 15-year-old boy from a village west of Ramallah, according to the official Palestinian Wafa news agency.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said four other Palestinians were also injured.

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

Witnesses also said a dozen cars were damaged in the attack before dawn. 

They said masked Palestinians were pelting 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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