An Israeli army spokesman has said two Palestinians suspected of the fatal abduction of three Israeli teenage settlers in June have been killed in a shootout with Israeli forces.
Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said the suspects, Marwan Qawasmeh, 33, and Amer Abu Aisheh, 29, were killed in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.
“We opened fire, they returned fire and they were killed in the exchange,” said Lerner.
“We have visual confirmation for one. The second one, we have no visual confirmation, but the assumption is he was killed.”
A relative of Abu Eisheh told Al Jazeera that his mother identified his body.
Qawasmeh’s mother told local media that she wanted to know whether he was killed and that she hoped he was martyred.
Al Jazeera sources in Hebron said that Israeli forces have withdrawn from Hebron and sent two bodies to the city’s hospital.
Earlier, Al Jazeera’s Rania Zabaneh, reporting from Ramallah, said that Israeli forces were surrounding the Hebron University neighbourhood.
The abduction of Jewish seminary students – Eyal Yifrach, 19, and 16-year-olds Gilad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel – in the West Bank sparked a massive manhunt.
It led to the arrest of hundreds of activists of the Hamas movement, eventually sparking Israel’s summer offensive against Gaza.
The bodies of the three Israelis were found three weeks later and a suspected mastermind was arrested.
But the two main suspects believed to have abducted and killed the teens had remained fugitives.