(Nablus) Three Palestinian Hamas fighters, accused of shooting dead three British Israelis in April, were shot dead by Israeli forces on Thursday during a military incursion into Nablus, in the northern occupied West Bank.
The Palestinian Health Ministry identified them as Hassan Qatnani, 35, Moaz Masri, 35, and Ibrahim Jouri, 45. The Islamist movement Hamas said in a statement that they were members of its armed wing.
Qatnani and Masri “murdered Léa (Lucy), Maia and Rina Dee on April 7 in a shooting attack near Hamra”, in the West Bank, for its part indicated the Shin Beth, the Israeli internal security service.
They were killed “during a joint operation by Shin Beth, the army and the police,” the source said in a statement, adding that an accomplice was also killed in the firefight.
“For an hour and a half, I heard explosions and gunshots,” Reda Abou Dhair, 52, told AFP, a witness who saw smoke coming out of the house after the raid. the three men were hiding and whose roof was destroyed, in the Old City of Nablus.
Clashes broke out on the sidelines of the Israeli operation, with young Palestinians throwing stones at military vehicles, AFP journalists noted.
Abdelatif al-Qanou, a spokesman for Hamas, the ruling organization in the Gaza Strip but also active in the West Bank, assured that “the resistance will proceed with determination” to “avenge the blood of the martyrs”.
Lucy Dee, 48, and her daughters Rina and Maia, ages 16 and 20 respectively, residents of the Israeli settlement of Efrat, near Bethlehem, were shot dead in the northern West Bank on April 7.
The Israeli operation “was carried out in a way that did not endanger the lives of either Israeli soldiers or Palestinian civilians,” Leo Dee, Lucy’s husband and father of her two daughters, said in a statement Thursday. saying he was “comforted”.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also reacted, citing in a statement “a message to those who attack us and who want to attack us”. “No matter where you try to hide, we will find you,” he said.
Stronghold of armed groups, the northern West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, has been the scene of violence for more than a year.
On February 22, 11 Palestinians including fighters were killed and more than 80 people injured by bullets in an Israeli raid in Nablus, the deadliest since 2005.
In another incident south of Nablus, in the town of Huwara, a 26-year-old Palestinian woman who stabbed an Israeli soldier was shot dead on Thursday. The 20-year-old soldier was hospitalized in moderate condition, according to Magen David Adom, Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross.
The developments come after an outbreak of violence earlier this week between armed groups in the Gaza Strip and Israel, following the death of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad official who was on hunger strike in an Israeli prison.
A Palestinian was killed and five others injured overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday in Israeli strikes on Gaza, carried out in retaliation for rocket attacks on Israeli soil.
A truce was announced Wednesday morning by the armed Islamic Jihad movement and Egypt, a traditional mediator. Israel did not comment.
The number of Palestinians killed since the start of the year now stands at 106. Nineteen Israelis, one Ukrainian and one Italian have been killed in the same period, according to an AFP count compiled from official Israeli and Palestinian sources.
These statistics include, on the Palestinian side, combatants and civilians, including minors, and on the Israeli side, mostly civilians, including minors, and three members of the Arab minority.