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Israeli forces kill two Palestinians in West Bank raid

Palestinian death toll for 2023 reaches 92 after latest Israeli military raid of Nablus
Mourners carry the body of a Palestinian who was killed by Israeli troops during a raid, at a funeral in Nablus on 3 April 2023 (Reuters)
Mourners carry the body of a Palestinian, who was killed by Israeli troops during a raid, at a funeral in Nablus on 3 April 2023 (Reuters)

Israeli forces killed two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Monday morning during a raid in the city.

The two were identified as Muhammed Hallaq al-Qatouni and Muhammed Junaid Abu Bakr, Palestinian fighters affiliated with the Lions' Den armed group.

Israeli troops raided two parts of the city to carry out arrests, according to the army. 

The Lions' Den said in a statement it was engaging in armed clashes with Israeli soldiers to fend off the raid.

Al-Qatouni was a fighter wanted by Israeli forces and released on 22 March from Palestine Authority (PA) custody, according to local media. Abu Bakr was a staff member of Mahmoud Aloul, the deputy chairman of Fatah, the Palestinian movement dominating the PA. He was also a member of the Fatah-affiliated al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. 

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Speaking to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, Ahmad Jibril, the head of the Palestinian Red Crescent Emergency and Ambulance Department in Nablus, said that at least 55 Palestinians were treated for inhaling tear gas during the raid. 

The Israeli army said it arrested three people during the operation. It added that those killed and arrested were linked to two shootings in nearby Huwwara town last month that wounded two Israeli soldiers and a settler. 

PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh condemned the deadly Israeli raid in a statement, according to Wafa.

"The killings and crimes committed by the occupation soldiers and settlers do not stop until they start again. A policy embraced by murderous criminals," Shtayyeh said.

Since the beginning of the year, Israeli forces have killed at least 92 Palestinians in the deadliest start to a year since 2000, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Palestinians have killed 14 Israelis in the same period. 

Israeli forces killed Mohammed Baradyah, 23, on Saturday after he allegedly conducted a car-ramming attack near the town of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, wounding three Israelis. On Friday, Mohammed al-Osaibi, 26, was shot dead at al-Aqsa Mosque.

The killings, along with Israeli restrictions on Palestinians entering al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan, have raised tensions over the weekend ahead of the Jewish Passover holiday which starts on Wednesday. 

Israeli settlers are set to storm the mosque in large numbers to mark the holiday at a time when Palestinians observing the holy month of Ramadan usually fill the area. Some settlers have called on authorities to allow them to conduct ritual animal slaughter in the courtyard of the mosque, which risks provoking Palestinians and Muslims worldwide. 

Al-Aqsa Mosque is an Islamic site where unsolicited visits, prayers and rituals by non-Muslims are forbidden according to decades-long international agreements.

Israeli groups, in coordination with authorities, have long violated the delicate arrangement and facilitated raids of the site and performed prayers and religious rituals. 

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