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West Bank: Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in a car during Jenin raid

Palestinian groups condemn the killing as a 'field execution' that signals a rise in Israeli targeted operations
The three men died when Israeli forces opened fire on the vehicle in which they were travelling (AFP) 
The three men died when Israeli forces opened fire on the vehicle in which they were travelling (AFP) 
By Shatha Hammad in Ramallah, occupied Palestine

Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in the early hours of Friday during a raid by the army in Jenin in the occupied West Bank. 

The three armed men died when Israeli forces opened fire on the vehicle in which they were travelling. 

They were identified as Yusef Salah, 23, Baraa Lahluh, 24, and Laith Abu Srur, 24, all from Jenin, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Eight more people were moderately wounded in the raid.

The raid started at 2am local time when a large number of Israeli forces stormed the city's eastern neighbourhood, taking positions atop residential buildings and conducting field interrogations.

Mujahid al-Saadi, a journalist from the area, told Middle East Eye that Palestinian fighters from the city responded to the raid with fire - as has been the case in Jenin in recent months - leading to gunfights with Israeli soldiers. 

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While Palestinian fighters were retreating from the area, the car carrying the three men got jammed and they were forced to take cover inside it. 

Israeli soldiers then surrounded the vehicle and shot directly at it, killing the three men inside and seizing their weapons, Saadi told MEE.

The Israeli army said in a brief message in Hebrew that it was conducting an operation in Jenin to locate weapons from two different locations. 

They added that a suspicious vehicle was seen on the side of the road on their way to the next place. 

"Shots were identified towards the soldiers who thwarted the terrorists' plans to target them," the army said, adding that they found weapons, including two M-16 assault rifles and cartridges at the scene of the clashes. 

No Israeli casualties were reported. 

Palestinian groups Fatah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad condemned what they called a "field execution," which came two months after three Palestinians were killed in a similar Jenin ambush

In February, another targeted operation in Nablus by the army left three people killed while in their vehicle.

Palestinian observers say the return of Israeli targeted killings - which have been rare in the occupied West Bank since the Second Intifada waned in 2005 - is a sign of growing Israeli aggression. 

Biden visit 

The Palestinian presidency said the "heinous crime", coming ahead of US President Joe Biden's visit to the region, shows disregard for Washington's call for calm.

Earlier this week, a US diplomat Barbara Leaf asked Israeli officials to refrain from provoking Palestinians in the West Bank in the hopes of maintaining calm ahead of Biden's four-day trip from 13 to 16 July, in which he plans to visit Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia.

Leaf asked that home demolitions be avoided and army raids reduced. Israeli officials reportedly turned her down, saying they could not make such obligations. 

Despite the relative calm in Jenin in the past month, the northern West Bank city has been the centre of Israeli violence this year with repeated army raids aimed at uprooting a growing armed Palestinian resistance movement.

More than 65 Palestinians in the West Bank were killed by Israeli forces this year, including 26 in Jenin alone. 

Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a prominent TV reporter with Al Jazeera, was shot dead by Israeli forces last month in Jenin while she was covering one of the army raids there.

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