World

Israelis kill three Palestinian militants as violence spirals

By AFP

Jerusalem, Undefined – Israeli security forces killed three Islamic Jihad militants when they came under fire Saturday during a raid in the West Bank, police said, the latest deaths in a surge of violence.

The bloodshed comes amid heightened tensions ahead of the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, that has seen violence spiral in Israel and the occupied West Bank.

Last year during Ramadan, clashes that flared between Israeli forces and Palestinians visiting Al-Aqsa mosque in annexed east Jerusalem led to 11 days of devastating conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas.

On Saturday, Israeli police said security forces killed three members of the Islamic Jihad militant group who had opened fire during an operation to arrest them near the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

Four Israeli soldiers were wounded during the operation, one of them seriously, the police said.

The Israeli forces had intercepted “a terrorist cell on its way to an attack, and stopped the car in which they were travelling between Jenin and Tulkarem”, the police said in a statement.

The Islamic Jihad confirmed the three deaths.

“We mourn the death of our three hero fighters,” the armed wing of Islamist movement said, adding that two of them were from Jenin and one from Tulkarem.

Hamas said the Israeli approach would fail.

“The enemy’s policy of assassination in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem will not provide it with so-called security,” Hamas said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid warned in a tweet on Saturday that the security forces would “act forcefully against any attempted attack” on citizens of the Jewish state.

Saturday’s clash is the latest in a spate of bloody violence in Israel and the West Bank since March 22.

– IS-linked attacks –

On Friday, Israeli forces shot dead a 29-year-old Palestinian during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The Palestinian Wafa news agency named him as Ahmad al-Atrash, who it said was taking part in a protest against Israeli settlements and had previously served six years in an Israeli prison.

The Israeli army said that during a “riot” in Hebron, “a suspect hurled a Molotov cocktail” at soldiers, who “responded with live fire”.

Hebron, the biggest city in the West Bank, is home to about 1,000 Jewish residents living under heavy Israeli military protection, among more than 200,000 Palestinians.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said 70 people were wounded in Friday’s clashes with the Israeli army in the Nablus area of the northern West Bank.

On Thursday, Israeli security forces raided Jenin after three fatal attacks rocked the Jewish state, leading to clashes in which two Palestinians were killed, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Elsewhere in the West Bank on the same day, a Palestinian man who stabbed and seriously wounded an Israeli civilian with a screwdriver on a bus was shot dead south of the city of Bethlehem.

The violence followed an attack on Tuesday night in Bnei Brak, an Orthodox Jewish city near Tel Aviv.

A Palestinian with an M-16 assault rifle killed two Israeli civilians, two Ukranian nationals and an Israeli-Arab policeman.

A total of 11 people have been killed in anti-Israeli attacks since March 22, including some carried out for the first time by assailants linked to or inspired by the Islamic State group.

The West Bank, which has been occupied by Israeli forces since the 1967 Six-Day war, is home to nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers, living in communities regarded as illegal under international law.

 

Dayang Norazhar

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