Nablus, Palestinian Territories – Israeli forces killed two Palestinians during an overnight raid in the occupied West Bank, officials on the two sides said on Sunday, in what Israel described as a shootout with gunmen.
The Israeli army said it carried out operations and used live fire in several locations, including in Nablus, adding it arrested four ‘individuals suspected of involvement in terrorist activities’.
The military said ‘hits’ were identified against multiple ‘terrorists’ and said there were no reported wounded on its own side.
The Palestinian health ministry identified the dead as Muhamad Azizi, 25, who it said was killed by a bullet to the chest, and Abdul Rahman Jamal Suleiman Sobh, 28, who was shot in the head.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported treating 19 wounded in Nablus, including 10 people hit by live fire.
Israel’s security forces have launched near-daily operations in the West Bank following a spate of attacks in Israel in recent months. The Jewish state has occupied the West Bank since 1967.
Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid said those targeted in the overnight raid were linked to recent ‘shooting attacks’ on Israelis, and he commended the security forces for an ‘efficient and successful operation’.
“Several terrorists were killed in the exchanges of fire and several more were wounded. Considerable weaponry was seized,” Lapid said.
Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, called the raid an ‘Israeli crime’.
“The entire region will remain in a cycle of violence until the occupation is ended and a just peace is achieved,” he added in a statement to Voice of Palestine radio.
The Israeli army said in a statement that its operation in Nablus was carried out alongside police, and that it also launched operations in several other locations including the town of Mughayir, Ayda camp and the city of Jenin.
It said the operation in Nablus was launched ‘to apprehend armed terrorist suspects’.
“An exchange of fire took place between the armed suspects and Israeli forces. Hits on a number of terrorists were identified,” it said.
The Israeli military alleged that a ‘violent riot was instigated’ during the ‘operational activity’.
“The rioters hurled explosive devices and rocks and shot at… soldiers, endangering their lives,” it said. “The soldiers responded with riot dispersal means and live fire.”
The military also said it had operated alongside Israel Border Police in the village of Qabatiya to ‘apprehend two… suspected of involvement in terrorist activities’.
“Armed suspects shot at the soldiers, who responded with live fire,” it added.
At least 52 Palestinians have been killed since late March, mostly in the West Bank, among them suspected militants and also non-combatants, including Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American dual national, who was covering an Israeli raid in Jenin.
Over the same period, 19 people – the majority Israeli civilians inside Israel – have been killed, mainly in attacks by Palestinians. Three Israeli Arab attackers have also been killed.