JENIN, West Bank (Reuters) -Israeli forces killed four Palestinians, including at least two militants, in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, medical officials said, as a months-long wave of violence continued.
The Israeli military said its soldiers had operated around the city of Jenin, which has been at the epicentre of many of the recent clashes, looking to arrest two Palestinian men suspected of involvement in “terrorist activity”.
During the arrest raid, it said soldiers were “targeted with direct fire and responded with live fire, hits were identified”.
Three Palestinians were killed, medical officials said. Islamic Jihad claimed one of them as a member and his body was seen wrapped in the militant group’s flag at his funeral.
Residents told Reuters two of the dead men were known in the city as armed fighters. The third man was a civilian who was passing by at the time of the shooting, residents said.
Hours later, medical officials said a Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops near the West Bank hub city of Ramallah. The army said they opened fire at a group which had thrown rocks and bottles at passing cars.
Ghassan al-Saadi, who said he witnessed the Jenin incident, told Reuters he saw Israeli snipers shoot at cars ahead of him. He said troops also fired at ambulances when they arrived at the scene to remove two men who lay prone on the ground.
The Israeli military said it was not aware of such reports.
Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have deteriorated sharply this year, with Israel intensifying West Bank raids following a spate of attacks in its cities in March and April.
Israel seized the West Bank in 1967 along with Gaza and East Jerusalem. U.S.-sponsored efforts to secure lasting peace and the creation of a Palestinian state on occupied territory have failed, with no prospects of talks resuming any time soon.
According to the Palestinian health ministry, more than 210 Palestinians have been killed this year. The tally includes militants and civilians, as well as deaths in Gaza during a brief conflict in August.
In the same period, Israeli authorities say 23 civilians and eight security personnel have been killed in Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank.