Israeli forces kill 2 Palestinian militants in shootout in the occupied West Bank

AP , Friday 7 Jul 2023

Israeli forces killed two Palestinians in a flashpoint city in the occupied West Bank Friday, days after Israel concluded a major two-day offensive claiming to crack down on militants.

Palestinian mourners carry the bodies of Hamza Maqbool, 32, rear and Khayri Shaheen, 34, during their funeral in the West Bank city of Nablus, Friday, July 7, 2023. AP


The persistent violence raised questions about the effectiveness and the stated goals of the brutal raid earlier this week in the Jenin refugee camp, which saw Israel launch airstrikes on militant targets, deploy hundreds of troops and cause widespread damage to roads, homes, and businesses. As a result of the raid, 12 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed.

The Israeli domestic security agency Shin Bet said Friday the two men, who it claimed were behind a shooting attack this week on a police vehicle, were killed by Israeli forces in the heart of the city of Nablus, the West Bank's commercial capital.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said two men were killed by Israeli fire, identifying them as Khayri Mohammed Sari Shaheen, 34, and Hamza Moayed Mohammed Maqbool, 32. Two militant groups, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, claimed the men as members.

In the aftermath of the shootout, bullet casings littered the blood-stained ground. Palestinians carried the bodies of the men killed into the hospital, chanting “God is great!” as guns fired into the air.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant praised Friday's operation and said Israel would continue to act to root out militants.

“There will be no loop that isn't closed and there won't be a terrorist who doesn't pay the heaviest price,” he said.

Israel has been staging raids in the West Bank for 16 months. The northern West Bank, which includes Nablus and Jenin and where the Palestinian Authority has less of a foothold, has been a major friction point during that period.

Over 150 Palestinians have been killed this year in the West Bank, and attacks targeting Israeli forces and settlers have killed at least 27 people, including a shooting last month that killed four settlers.

Israel says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and illegal settlements as well as people not involved in the confrontations have also been killed.

Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.

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