The Israeli army has killed at least three Palestinian fighters and wounded four others while firing live ammunition during a raid in Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, according to Palestinian officials.
The Israeli army and intelligence service said in a statement that the men were behind a attack on April 7 north of Jericho that killed two British-Israeli sisters when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle. Their mother also later died of her wounds.
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Hamas, the Palestinian group governing the besieged Gaza Strip, said the three men who were killed on Thursday – identified as Hassan Qatnani, Moaz al-Masri and Ibrahim Jabr – were members of its armed wing.
Hamas, in its statement, claimed responsibility for the attack near Jericho that killed Rina and Maia Dee, and their mother Lucy, residents of the illegal settlement of Efrat, south of Jerusalem. More than half a million Israelis live in some 200 settlements built on Palestinian land considered illegal under international laws.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem told Al Jazeera that “the occupation is completely delusional that by committing its crime in Nablus, it will stop the resistance in the West Bank.”
As the funerals of the three men were held, political factions in Nablus announced a general strike on Thursday in response to the raid.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said four people were transferred to hospital for treatment and at least 150 people suffered tear gas inhalation, including schoolchildren.
The raid followed an exchange of cross-border strikes between Israel and Gaza earlier in the week and more than a year of intensifying violence that has seen repeated Israeli raids in the West Bank as well as a series of attacks by Palestinians on Israelis.
Locals in Nablus told Al Jazeera that large numbers of Israeli forces, including undercover units, raided the Old City as residents were starting the day. The soldiers surrounded one house and exchanged fire with the Palestinian fighters inside, they said.
“So many men from the city have been killed,” a man who identified himself only as Kareem for fear of reprisals told The Associated Press news agency. “We are used to these raids. That’s the story of life in Nablus.”
Reporting from the city, Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim said there was “a tense mood”.
“We’ve heard chants of defiance at the funerals and vows to retaliate,” she said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that those who harm Israelis are eventually reached.
“It doesn’t matter where you try to hide – we will find you,” he said.
Separately on Thursday, Israeli soldiers shot dead a 26-year-old Palestinian woman in an alleged stabbing attack in nearby Huwara.
Iman Odeh, 26, was “killed by a bullet to the chest fired by the occupation soldiers in Huwara, south of Nablus,” a statement by the Palestinian health ministry said.
The Israeli army said an assailant stabbed a soldier, who was “lightly injured” and taken to hospital for treatment. The attacker was “neutralised”, it added.
The Israeli army and settlers have killed at least 107 Palestinians, 20 of them children, so far in 2023, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
At least 19 Israelis, one Ukrainian and one Italian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP tally.
The Palestinian death toll includes 44-year-old prisoner Khader Adnan, who died on Tuesday on the 87th day of a hunger strike against his repeated arbitrary detention.
The death of Adnan, who was arrested on March 5 and was awaiting military trial, caused widespread anger and protests in the West Bank and led to rocket attacks on Israel by armed resistance groups in the besieged Gaza Strip.
On Tuesday night, a 58-year-old Palestinian man, Hashel Mubarak, was killed in Israeli air attacks on the Gaza Strip, and five others were injured.