JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli troops killed three Palestinian gunmen in West Bank violence on Thursday, Palestinian health officials said, in the latest deaths in a monthslong surge of violence in the occupied territory.
In video circulated on social media, a lone gunman opened fire at an Israeli car in broad daylight on a busy street in Hawara, a flashpoint town in the northern West Bank. The gunman fired at least 10 shots, pursuing the car as it tried to escape by driving over a barrier in the middle of the street.
No one in the car was injured, the army said. It said troops hunted him after the attack and shot him. The identity of the gunman, whose death was confirmed by Palestinian officials, wasn’t immediately known.
Hawara has seen repeated attacks, including a deadly shooting early this year that triggered a rampage by Jewish West Bank settlers who torched Palestinian property.
Early Friday, dozens of Israeli settlers entered Hawara, and clashes erupted with Palestinian residents, the Israeli military said. Both sides threw stones at one another before troops moved in to disperse the crowds.
The army said it opened fire at a man who threw a block at an Israeli vehicle. Palestinian health officials said a 19 year old Palestinian man was shot in the chest and killed. The army said Israeli settlers also vandalized Palestinian property. No further details were immediately released.
Earlier Thursday, the Israeli military said its troops carried out a raid in the Tulkarem refugee camp. It said that soldiers came under fire and that troops shot Palestinian gunmen. Five members on the paramilitary border police unit were wounded in the clashes, it said.
Two Palestinian militants were killed by the Israeli gunfire, Palestinian health officials said. The Hamas militant group later claimed the two men as its members.
A spiral of violence has gripped the occupied territory for more than 18 months. The Israeli military has mounted near-nightly raids into Palestinian towns, often prompting deadly clashes with residents. Militancy has surged among young Palestinians who have lost hope in their leadership and in the prospect of a political resolution to the conflict.
Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire this year in the West Bank, according to a tally by The Associated Press — the highest death toll in years. Israel says most of those killed have been militants, but stone-throwing youths protesting incursions as well as innocent bystanders have also been killed.
Palestinian attacks against Israelis have killed more than 30 people this year.
Israel captured the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek all three areas for a future independent state.