Israeli forces have killed three Palestinians in Nablus in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said, drawing condemnation from the Palestinian Authority (PA).
“Three citizens were martyred as a result of direct shooting by Israeli forces in the city of Nablus,” the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. It identified the victims as Ashraf Mubaslat, Adham Mabrouka and Mohammad Dakhil, according to the Palestinian Wafa news agency.
“An eyewitness we spoke to said the [Israeli] army … fired at the car that the three Palestinians were using. She said that for more than a minute, she kept hearing gunshots being fired,” Al Jazeera’s Rania Zabaneh, reporting from Nablus, said.
“When we got to the location, the car was being towed away, it was totally riddled with bullets. At the hospital where the bodies were taken the doctors said they had a hard time recognising the victims because of the gunshots.
“The Israeli defence minister commended the army for doing this operation,” she said.
Witnesses told Anadolu Agency that the incident involved a member of Israel’s special forces in a civilian vehicle storming the city’s al-Makhfieh neighbourhood, and opening fire at the car.
The PA’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called for an international investigation into the killings while the PA cabinet described it as a “heinous crime”.
The foreign ministry held the Israeli government and Prime Minister Neftali Bennett “fully and directly responsible for this crime”.
“The silence of the international community to Israeli violations and crimes provides a cover to these criminal acts and encourages the Israeli occupier to continue in its open warfare against the Palestinians,” it said in a statement.
Israel, on its part, said the three men were Palestinian “militants” who were responsible for recent shooting attacks.
The Shin Bet internal security agency said the three were in a vehicle and were killed in a clash with security forces. No Israelis were killed or wounded in the shooting, it added.
Palestinian and international rights groups have long condemned what they see as a policy of shoot to kill and excessive use of force.
B’Tselem, an Israeli rights group, said it had recorded 77 Palestinian deaths at the hands of Israeli forces in the West Bank last year. More than half of those killed were not implicated in any attacks, it added.
Late last year, Israeli troops killed a Palestinian man during a raid in the Ras al-Ain area in Nablus.
In December 2021, Israeli troops had killed a Palestinian man in the village of Beita, West Bank, during a protest against illegal settlements. Israeli forces killed a Palestinian minor after an alleged car-ramming at a military checkpoint in the northern West Bank.
During the same period, an ultraorthodox Jew was injured after being allegedly stabbed by a Palestinian attacker outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.
A week earlier, a Hamas member allegedly opened fire in the Old City, killing an Israeli man. Both suspects were killed by Israeli forces.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, Amnesty International said in a new report that Israel was carrying out “the crime of apartheid against Palestinians” and must be held accountable for treating them as “an inferior racial group”.
Palestinians have also been hit by a rise in violent attacks by Israeli settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israel captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war. The territories are now home to more than 700,000 Jewish settlers living in 164 settlements and 116 outposts, which Palestinians seek as parts of their future independent state.
Under international law, all Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are considered illegal.
Palestinians, along with most of the international community, consider settlements to be a major obstacle to peace.