Three Palestinians have been shot dead by the Israeli military in the northern occupied West Bank, the latest deaths in a surge of violence in the territory since early last year.
“Three Palestinians have been killed by Israeli bullets in Nablus,” the Palestinian Health Ministry said on Tuesday, adding the identities of those killed were still unknown.
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The Israeli army said three “armed terrorists” had opened fire on its soldiers from a vehicle in a Nablus neighbourhood and the troops fired back “to neutralise” them.
Hamas later claimed the three as members of the group.
Nablus is the territory’s commercial capital and a major focus of the Israeli military’s raids.
Palestinian media described the killings as an ambush following the Palestinians’ alleged attack on Israeli forces near a Jewish settlement overlooking Nablus.
Palestine TV showed footage of a military vehicle blocking access to the area of the incident, including an ambulance, as soldiers appeared to conduct an inspection.
The Israeli military said it confiscated three M16 rifles and other equipment from their car.
The occupied West Bank is currently experiencing a period of increasing violence, marked by repeated Israeli raids which have shown no signs of abating.
Earlier this month, Israel pounded the Jenin refugee camp with drones and missiles while hundreds of soldiers swarmed the area. Twelve Palestinians, including three children, were killed, along with one Israeli soldier.
The number of Palestinians killed this year in the occupied Palestinian territories, which includes East Jerusalem and Gaza, is more than 200, with the majority of fatalities recorded in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right, ultranationalist coalition has rejected talks with the Palestinian leadership, sought to expand illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and pushed for a more aggressive approach to Palestinian attacks.
Raids have only grown deadlier under the far-right government.
On Friday, Israeli forces killed two teenage Palestinian boys in the occupied West Bank.
One of the boys, identified by the Palestinian health ministry as 17-year-old Muhammad Fouad Atta al-Bayed, was shot in the head.
The other was Fawzi Hani Makhalfeh, who was driving with his friend Mohammed Mukheimar when Israeli forces opened fire at their car.
Earlier this month in Umm Safa, Palestinian health officials said 24-year-old Abdel-Jawad Hamdan Saleh was also fatally shot in the chest by Israeli forces during a demonstration.
Last month, several dozen illegal settlers rampaged through the occupied West Bank village, setting fire to vehicles and homes in days of consecutive vigilante attacks following the deadly shooting of four Israeli settlers at a petrol station between the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Nablus.