Israeli soldiers fatally shot three Palestinians, who were said to be armed, and wounded at least eight others early Friday during a gun battle in the West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
The Israel military said its forces came under attack and exchanged fire with militants during a military operation in the town of Jenin.
Israeli forces have been carrying out near-daily raids in the occupied West Bank since a string of attacks earlier this year killed 19 people in Israel. Many of the arrest raids have been launched in and around Jenin, the hometown of several of the attackers.
The military said it raided two locations in search of weapons. At the first, it says soldiers fired back after Palestinians opened fire and hurled explosive devices at them. On their way to the second location, they exchanged fire with Palestinian gunmen sitting in a vehicle, the army said.
Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, the military chief of staff, said in a speech that three militants were killed. They were identified as Laith Abu Srur, Baraa Lahlouh and Yousef Salah, according to reporting by Haaretz.
The military said the troops confiscated M-16 rifles, a “Carlo” submachine gun, ammunition and a tactical vest from inside the vehicle.
Heavy exchanges of gunfire could be heard in videos circulated on social media. Later, footage on social media showed a bullet-riddled vehicle with bloodstains and residents inspecting it.
Hundreds of angry residents gathered outside a Jenin hospital after the overnight raid, chanting “God is greatest” and calling for revenge, before carrying the three bodies on stretchers through the town in a spontaneous funeral procession. The three were to be buried later Friday.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described the killings of the militants as a “crime,” which he noted took place ahead of President Biden’s visit to the region scheduled for next month.
A Hamas spokesperson also released a statement in the wake of the incident, saying: “The occupation will pay for its crimes. Jenin will remain unbreakable and will continue its resistance of the occupation.”
With Post wires