Israeli forces killed two Palestinian militants in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, the Palestinian health ministry said, as the Israeli army confirmed its soldiers had been engaged in a shootout.
The army also said five Israeli police officers were wounded by an explosive device in a separate clash, which was confirmed by Hamas militants, in the same region of the northern West Bank.
The Palestinian health ministry named the two men killed as Abdul Rahman Atta, 23, and Huthaifa Faris, 27, saying they had died as a result of “occupation (Israeli) bullets” near Tulkarem.
Israel’s military said a gunfight had erupted after soldiers identified a “suspicious vehicle” near the area’s Shufa village.
“Soldiers engaged and, after exchanges of fire, the two terrorists were neutralized,” the military said.
The incident came after reports that an Israeli vehicle was shot at in the area, according to the army statement.
Hamas said the two Palestinians killed were members of its armed wing.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said Israeli forces “prevented our crews from treating them and took them away” from the scene at a Shufa checkpoint.
Following the shootings, Palestinians gathered on a road around bloodstains which had been marked out by leaves arranged in a heart shape on the ground.
- Surging violence –
Violence also rocked the Tulkarem refugee camp during a raid by Israeli forces.
The military said forces had engaged in “an exchange of fire” and that militants hurled explosives at them.
As they withdrew from the camp, five Israeli police officers were wounded by an explosive device.
Both Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group said their fighters ambushed Israeli forces in Tulkarem, using improvised explosive devices.
They “detonated a number of IEDs against the vehicles storming (the camp), then engaged in clashes” at close range with the Israeli forces, Hamas said in a statement.
A surge in violence has hit the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict.
There has been a rise in army raids, Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis and Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and their property.
So far this year at least 245 Palestinians, 32 Israelis and two foreigners have been killed in the conflict, including combatants and civilians on both sides, according to Israeli and Palestinian officials.
©️ Agence France-Presse