Israeli security forces have killed three Palestinian men in the occupied West Bank, Israeli police said.
The Israeli police said the men were armed and were “killed in a shoot-out”, in the predawn incident. “This is a terrorist cell that has been involved in terrorist activity against security forces recently, and was apparently on its way to another attack,” the police statement said on Saturday.
There was no immediate comment from Palestinian officials. Palestinians at the scene reported on social media that the Israeli forces denied access to paramedics after three “resistance fighters” were killed at Arraba junction, to the south of Jenin in the West Bank.
Palestinian media reported a statement by the Islamic Jihad movement, where it confirmed the killing of three members of its armed wing, Al-Quds Brigades, by Israeli forces.
Referring to them as “martyrs”, the Palestinian group named the three men as Khalil Tawalbeh, 24, from Jenin, Saif Abu Libdeh, 25, from Tulkarm, and Saeb Abahra, 30, from Jenin.
Sources in the Palestinian emergency services said that the Israeli forces have kept the bodies of the three men and refused to hand them over to their families.
Speaking from Arrabeh near Jenin, Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim said witnesses reported heavy gunfire from the Israeli forces to which the three men responded who were also armed.
“One of the men seemed to have a will encouraging everyone to keep fighting,” said Ibrahim. “The ambulance arrived but was stopped from proceeding and the bodies were taken by the Israeli forces,” she said. “No funerals will be happening here today,” she added.
Tensions have risen over the past week after a string of deadly attacks in Israel.
On Tuesday, a Palestinian allegedly shot dead five people in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak before he was killed by police. The shooting raised the number of people killed allegedly by Palestinian attackers to 11 in Israel within a week.
With Saturday’s deaths, seven Palestinians have been killed over three days. Israeli forces shot dead three Palestinians in West Bank on Thursday, including a minor in Jenin refugee camp. On Friday, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man in the West Bank city of Hebron following mosque prayers.
Also on Friday, the Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said 36 Palestinians were hurt in weekly confrontations with Israeli forces elsewhere in the West Bank. Thirty-three of the injured were struck by rubber bullets and three by live rounds, the Red Crescent said.
Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian leaders have held a flurry of talks in recent weeks, all aimed at calming tensions before Ramadan, amid tensions between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters boiling over in recent years. Last year, Israeli security forces conducted several raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during Ramadan, triggering protests.
They hope to avoid a repeat of last year, when protests against the illegal eviction of Palestinians from the homes in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah during Ramadan ignited an 11-day Israeli offensive on Gaza in May.
At least 260 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed in the Israeli bombardment. On the Israeli side, 12 people, including two children, were killed.