ISRAEL: Israeli forces targeted and shot a Palestinian militant to death during an army operation in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials said, the latest in a series of violent incidents in the past few months around the volatile town of Nablus.
A Palestinian consolidator force comprising individual militant groups, “The Dens of Lions”, said the victim, Said Al-Kawni, was a “hero of the resistance” and perished during “clashes with occupation forces”.
Medical personnel notified that three other Palestinians were injured by Israeli gunfire in the incident, which was confirmed by the Israeli military.
“Overnight, during IDF (Israel Defence Forces) routine activity, IDF soldiers spotted armed suspects driving in a vehicle and motorcycle adjacent to the city of Nablus,” the military said. “IDF soldiers responded by firing toward the armed suspects. Hits were identified.”
This incident becomes another of those brutal and bloody clashes between the IDF and local Palestinians around Nablus and the nearby town of Jenin, underpinning the volatile security climate around the surrounding regions on the West Bank as Israel advances towards its elections on November 1.
Nablus, one of the largest refugee camps in the West Bank, was in a sombre mood as most shops were closed on Sunday following strike threats by militant factions.
About 70 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the Israeli military launched its Operation Breakwater against militants on March 31 in response to a string of fatal Palestinian street attacks in Israel. The death toll includes militants and civilians.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid last week called for a revival of long-dormant efforts to secure a two-state solution to the conflict, following an appeal last month by U.S. President Joe Biden.
Despite these resolutions and calls for peace, there have been no closures to the clashes. Moreover, with possibilities of election polls favouring former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a strong antagonist of the two-state resolution, expectations of any immediate breakthrough are slim.
U.S.-brokered peace talks aimed at establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, failed miserably in 2014 and the steady expansion of Israeli settlements since then has made reviving the talks increasingly problematic.
Israeli security forces have urged the Palestinian Authority (PA) to mobilise efforts against the curbing of violence by gunmen associated with extremist factions like the Islamic Jihad, which are well entrenched in cities like Jenin and Nablus.
However, the PA admits that its power to control militant factions and their despicable violent acts have been rendered limited by the fact that they are considerably unpopular in the West Bank, and are undermined by Israel.
On Sunday, 30 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails began a hunger strike in protest at their conditions of detention.