Two Palestinian youths were killed and three others were injured in a violent confrontation with Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Nablus on Friday, according to Palestinian officials and witnesses.
The incident occurred early in the morning, when Israeli troops entered the old city of Nablus in search of two men suspected of carrying out a shooting attack against police earlier this week, according to Israel’s military.
The men, identified as Hamza Maqbool and Khairi Shaheen, were affiliated with the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militant group linked to the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, according to local sources.
The Israeli forces used loudspeakers to ask the men to surrender themselves, but they refused and threw improvised explosive devices at the soldiers, according to Al Jazeera correspondent Alan Fisher, reporting from Ramallah.
A shootout ensued, resulting in the deaths of the two men and the injury of three others, who were taken to a nearby hospital by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.
The raid sparked anger and protests among the residents of Nablus, who described it as an “invasion” and a violation of their rights. Some threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
The raid came less than two days after another deadly Israeli operation in the Jenin refugee camp, which killed 12 Palestinians and wounded 140 others. The operation was the largest Israeli attack in the West Bank in more than 20 years and caused widespread destruction and displacement.
The West Bank has witnessed a surge in violence this year, as Israeli forces have intensified their raids and killings of Palestinians suspected of involvement in armed resistance. Palestinian militants have also increased their attacks against Israeli settlers and security forces in the area.
According to the Palestinian health ministry, nearly 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces this year, including civilians and minors. According to Israeli authorities, 27 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian attacks this year.