Israeli military kills three suspected Palestinian gunmen in troubled West Bank

NABLUS – The Israeli military said it shot dead three suspected Palestinian gunmen in the northern occupied West Bank on Tuesday, the latest bloodshed in one of the most violent stretches of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in years.

Israeli security forces said they opened fire on Palestinian militants who had fired on them from a car in the West Bank city of Nablus, the territory’s commercial capital and a focus of recently intensified raids by the Israeli military. In the hilly al-Tur neighborhood, shortly after the shooting, Israeli forces inspected a shattered black Skoda surrounded by spent bullet casings.

Palestinian media described the Israeli killing of the gunmen as an ambush following the militants’ attempted attack on Israeli forces near a Jewish settlement overlooking Nablus. The Israeli military said it confiscated three M-16 rifles and other equipment from her car.

Palestinian health officials identified the men as Nur al-Ardah, 32, Montaser Salama, 33, and Saad Al-Kharraz, 43.

Israeli-Palestinian fighting has increased in the territory Israel seized from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East War. The Palestinians are looking for the occupied West Bank as well as East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip as a hoped-for future state.

In recent months, the West Bank has seen an erratic mix of the rise of local Palestinian armed groups, which have frequently carried out firefights against Israelis, and almost daily, increasingly deadly Israeli military attacks. Earlier this month, 12 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed in Israel’s fiercest invasion of the West Bank in nearly two decades.

Amid rising tensions, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right, ultra-nationalist coalition has refused talks with the Palestinian leadership, sought to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank and is pushing for a more aggressive response to Palestinian militant attacks.

Late Monday, Palestinian militants said they opened fire on a bus carrying Israeli settlers near the Palestinian town of Hawara, south of Nablus, without causing casualties. The Israeli military said it would set up checkpoints to search for the suspects. A little-known local armed group calling itself the Dawn Brigade claimed responsibility for the shooting.

So far this year, over 150 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank – the highest death toll in over a decade. Almost half of them belonged to militant groups and were killed in fighting during Israeli military attacks, but stone-throwing youth protesting the raids and innocent bystanders were also killed.

At least 25 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks on Israelis this year.

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