Israeli forces kill two Palestinian fighters in West Bank gun battle

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Israeli forces kill two Palestinian fighters in West Bank gun battle

Palestinian authorities confirm death of two men and say six more were wounded during clash in Nablus

Smoke rises during the clash at a house in Nablus, in the West Bank
Smoke rises during the clash at a house in Nablus, in the West Bank. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Reuters in NablusSun 24 Jul 2022 07.46 EDT

Israeli forces have killed two Palestinian fighters in a pre-dawn clash in the occupied West Bank and attacked a fishing boat off the Gaza Strip coast that was accused of smuggling in Hamas supplies from Egypt.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade militant group claimed the two Palestinians killed on Sunday at a house in Nablus as its members. The Palestinian health ministry said six others were wounded.

Israeli security forces came under fire during an apparent arrest raid outside the house of a suspect and “responded with live fire and other means until neutralising the terrorists inside the house and on its roof”, police said.

Mural of late Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh<br>epa10054935 A mural of the late Palestinian journalist of Al Jazeera network Shireen Abu Aqleh on the Palestinian side of the Israeli separation wall, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, 06 July 2022. American President Joe Biden is expected to visit Bethlehem next week and to pass by the wall during his visit. EPA/ABED AL HASHLAMOUN

A neighbour, Naser Estitya, 60, said he heard gunshots from inside the house before the Israelis fired at the house. “They were calling the name of one person, asking him to surrender,” he said.

Photographs from the scene showed that part of the wall of the top floor had been destroyed.

“Another crime committed by the occupation forces in the old city of Nablus, where martyrs have fallen and many [were] wounded,” Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian official, said on Twitter. “We strongly condemn this crime, and we hold the occupation responsibility for its repercussions.”

US-brokered peace talks aimed at establishing a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza collapsed in 2014 and have shown no sign of revival.

Israeli forces have stepped up raids in recent months in the West Bank after men from the area carried out deadly street attacks in Israel. The western-backed Palestinian Authority regularly condemns such incursions.

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Separately, the Palestinian fishers’ union said two crew members dived into Mediterranean waters and swam to safety before the Israeli navy fired on their boat. A picture circulated on social media showed black smoke rising close to the Gaza coast.

An Israeli military spokesperson said the vessel had come from Egypt and strayed from Israel’s maritime cordon on Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas Islamists. The navy fired on the boat after it did not heed orders to stop, the military said, adding that it carried unspecified supplies for Hamas.

Nizar Ayyash, the chair of the union, described the two crew members as fishers, telling Reuters: “The boat was completely burnt and destroyed. I think it may have sunk, but fishermen on board jumped and swam to the shore. It wasn’t the first time they made such allegations and at the end these allegations proved baseless.”

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