Israeli forces kill 3 Palestinians in West Bank clashes

Jerusalem on April 2

Israeli forces fired and killed three Palestinian militants in the occupied West Bank early on Saturday, an operation that fueled a continuing fear of a flare-up between Israel and the Palestinians during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Tensions have skyrocketed in recent days after Palestinian assailants killed 11 Israelis in separate attacks across the country. Israeli forces have intensified security and launched arrest warrants in the West Bank, killing two Palestinians during a firefight on Thursday. Another Palestinian was killed on Thursday after stabbing and injuring an Israeli on a bus in the West Bank.

Israeli police said the three militants were members of a cell involved in the latest attacks on Israeli forces and were planning another attack that was thwarted during early Saturday’s operation with the military and intelligence services.

Live videos of witnesses on social media showed a crowd of Palestinians inspecting the site of the clashes near the city of Jenin after the Israeli troops withdrew.

The street was covered in bloodstains and the men chanted slogans calling for revenge.

Palestinian TV reported that Israeli forces seized the bodies of the dead militants.

Earlier, after a Palestinian was killed in the city of Hebron during clashes that broke out after Friday prayers. The Ministry of Health said that Ahmed al-Atrash, 29, was killed in Hebron on Friday. The Israeli military said its forces fired on a Palestinian who threw a firebomb at them.

Hundreds of Jewish settlers live under heavy military protection in the heart of Hebron, a city of more than 200,000 Palestinians and home to a large holy site sacred to Jews and Muslims.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said dozens of Palestinians were injured in weekly demonstrations elsewhere in the West Bank, with protesters often throwing stones and firebombs at Israeli troops, firing tear gas, rubber bullets and sometimes live ammunition.

At the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam, authorities said more than 30,000 people attended Friday prayers on the eve of Ramadan, which begins this weekend. There were no reports of protests or violence.

The hill on which the mosque is located is the holiest site for Jews, who call it the Temple Mount, and it has been a frequent hotspot in the centenary conflict.

Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian leaders have held a series of talks in recent weeks, and Israel has made a series of gestures of goodwill, all aimed at calming tensions ahead of Ramadan.

They hope to avoid a repeat of last year, when protests and clashes in Jerusalem during Ramadan ignited an 11-day Gaza war and Jewish-Arab violence in Israel’s mixed cities.

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