Three Palestinian militants killed by Israeli forces in West Bank clash

Three Palestinian militants have been killed in a gun battle with Israeli security forces near Jenin in the occupied West Bank, Israeli police say.

A statement said the Palestinians were on their way to carry out an attack in a car on Friday night and that they fired on a counter-terrorism unit that was trying to arrest them.

Four Israeli troops were wounded in the ensuing clash, one of them seriously.

The Islamic Jihad militant group confirmed the dead men were members.

“We mourn our heroic martyrs and we assert that our fighters will continue to combat the enemy,” it armed wing said.

Palestinian news agency Wafa cited security sources as identifying the three men as Khalil Tawalbeh, from Jenin, Saeb Abahreh from al-Yamoun, and Saif Abu Libdeh, from Tulkarm.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid warned that the country’s security forces would “act forcefully against any attempted attack” on its citizens.

The forces are already on their highest level of alert since last year’s conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, after three deadly attacks in Israel in less than two weeks.

The violence has come in the run-up to a sensitive time when religious holidays will overlap for Muslims, Jews and Christians. Saturday is the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

On Friday, a Palestinian man was shot dead during clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Hebron, the Palestinian health ministry said. The Israeli military said its soldiers opened fire when a suspect threw a Molotov cocktail at them during a riot.

Another three Palestinians were killed on Thursday. One was shot dead after he stabbed and wounded an Israeli on a bus in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, while two others were killed in a gunfight during an Israeli raid in Jenin.

The Israeli military said its soldiers came under fire in Jenin as they arrested three people suspected of involvement in an attack by a Palestinian gunman in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak on Tuesday, in which two Israeli civilians, two Ukrainian nationals and an Israeli policemen were killed.

Four people were killed by an Israeli Arab in a car-ramming and stabbing attack in Beersheba on 22 March, and two were shot dead by two Israeli Arabs in Hadera on Sunday. All three of the assailants were linked to the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

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