Friday, December 09, 2022

Israel kills 2 Palestinians in army ambush

JERUSALEM ( Associated Press) – Two Palestinians were killed and a third wounded in Israeli military firing in the occupied West Bank early Friday, Palestinian health officials said amid conflicting reports of the incident.

The shootings near Nablus, the second largest city in the West Bank, are the latest sign of escalating tensions in the region in recent months.

According to the Israeli military, its soldiers opened fire after being shot by a passing car at a military post south of Nablus. Soldiers identified two suspicious vehicles and responded with ammunition, he said, reporting “hits”. The military did not clarify whether this meant that the people in the cars were killed or injured.

An armed group, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, described the incident as an attack and said its fighters were involved, but did not provide any further details. The militia is an offshoot of the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. For his part, the Palestinian prime minister, Mohamed Ishtayyeh, said the two men were killed in cold blood, but did not provide any evidence.

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The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the victims as two men, aged 47 and 35, from the Askar refugee camp near Nablus. Ishtayyeh said he worked for Civil Defense, a Palestinian autonomous government department that includes firefighters and other emergency personnel.

The incident occurred three days later when Israeli forces stormed a small armed group’s stronghold in Nablus, where they destroyed a bomb laboratory and engaged in a firefight. Five Palestinians were killed in that operation, including the leaders of the militia who call themselves Lions Den.

The ongoing Israeli raids in the West Bank present a serious challenge to Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, which relies on security cooperation with Israel to remain in power, particularly against rival Islamist insurgency. At the same time, such cooperation is deeply unpopular with Palestinians who complain of 56 years of Israeli occupation,

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Young Palestinians are particularly disillusioned. Small gangs of gunmen have formed in some areas, first in the Genin refugee camp, an insurgency stronghold, and now in Nablus. These groups defy the Palestinian authorities and launch attacks against the Israeli military.

So far this year, more than 125 Palestinians have lost their lives in conflicts between Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The conflict began after a series of Palestinian attacks that killed 19 people in Israel during the spring. According to the military, most of those killed were Palestinian rebels, but the victims include youth and other civilians protesting the raid.

Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War as well as East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians want the three regions to form their long-awaited independent state.

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