Israeli forces shot dead three Palestinian gunmen who opened fire on soldiers in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, the army said, the latest bloodshed in a year-long wave of violence in the region.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, claimed those killed were members.
The Palestinian health ministry said the men were killed by Israeli fire near the city of Nablus and were identified as Jihad Mohammed al-Shami, 24, Uday Othman al-Shami, 22, and Mohammed Raed Dabik, 18.
The army said it seized three M16 rifles from the terrorists after the exchange of fire and one of the gunmen turned himself in and was arrested.
Sunday’s deaths brought to 80 the number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of the year, as Israel carried out arrest raids in the West Bank. In 2023 a series of Palestinian attacks against Israelis killed 14 people.
The latest violence follows an Israeli military raid on the West Bank village of Jabba last week, where three Palestinian militants were killed. Hours later, a Palestinian gunman opened fire on a busy Tel Aviv street at the start of the Israeli weekend, wounding three people before shooting and killing them.
The current round of violence is one of the worst in years between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. It began last spring after a series of Palestinian attacks against Israelis, which led to almost nightly Israeli raids in the West Bank.
About 150 Palestinians will be killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2022, making it the deadliest year in those areas since 2004, according to B’Tselem, a prominent Israeli rights group. During the same period, 30 people were killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis.
The army says most of the Palestinians killed were extremists. But stone-pelting youths protesting the intrusion and others who were not involved in the clash have also been killed.
Israel says the raids are necessary to dismantle terrorist networks and prevent future attacks. But the attacks seem to be intensifying instead of decreasing.
Palestinians see the raids as an end to their 55-year stranglehold by Israel, openly annexing lands for their future status.
In the 1967 Middle East war, Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The Palestinians seek those territories for their future independent state.