Israeli security forces killed a Palestinian freedom fighter and another fighter in a gunbattle in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, the military said, triggering further attacks in which Palestinians said a 16-year-old youth was also killed.
Israeli forces surrounded the house of Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, a senior commander of the Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades group, long on Israel’s wanted list.
Al-Nabulsi, barricaded inside, refused to surrender and was killed along with another fighter during a gunbattle with Israeli forces, who also used shoulder-fired missiles in the fighting, the military said.
The shoot-out, in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, was the deadliest incident in the West Bank since Israel and the Islamic Jihad ended three days of fighting in Gaza, the worst in more than a year.
Al-Nabulsi was a member of the recently formed “Nablus Brigade”, a Palestinian alliance in the city which also includes Islamic Jihad’s gunmen. Hours after the shoot-out, tens of thousands attended his funeral and called for revenge.
The gun battle was followed by clashes during which the military said its troops responded with live fire against Palestinians throwing rocks and explosives at soldiers.
Islamic Jihad said the 16-year-old was killed while participating in a confrontation with Israeli troops.
Palestinian health officials confirmed the three deaths and said 40 more people were injured in total. There were no reports of Israeli casualties.
The Israeli military said al-Nabulsi had been suspected of carrying out several shooting attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.
Israel has stepped up raids in recent months in the West Bank. The Western-backed Palestinian Authority regularly condemns such incursions.
According to Palestinian officials, at least 44 Palestinians, at least half of them civilians, were killed during three days of Israeli strikes on Gaza, which ended with an August 7 truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad that has largely held.