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Israeli forces shoot 3 Palestinian assailants in W.Bank, army says

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Adds new incident in paragraph 4, detail throughout

By Yosri Al-Jamal and Ali Sawafta

NEAR HEBRON, West Bank, April 21 (Reuters) -Israel's military said its soldiers opened fire at three Palestinians who attacked them on Sunday in the occupied West Bank, where violence has flared in recent days, and the Palestinian health ministry said all three had died.

In the first incident, at a junction near the Palestinian city of Hebron, the Israeli military said its troops were shot at by one man, while another attempted to stab them, before they opened fire on both individuals.

A Reuters cameraman saw a body at the scene of the incident. The official Palestinian news agency WAFA, citing local sources, said ambulance crews were prevented from reaching the site. The two, aged 18 and 19 years old, were later confirmed dead.

In the second incident, at a checkpoint further north in the West Bank, the military said a woman tried to stab soldiers who then responded with live fire. She was later confirmed dead by health authorities.

Violence in the West Bank, already on the rise before the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, has escalated since then with frequent army raids on militant groups, rampages by Jewish settlers in Palestinian villages, and deadly Palestinian street attacks.

Israeli forces began an extended raid in the early hours of Friday in the Nur Shams area, near the flashpoint Palestinian city of Tulkarm, and exchanged fire with armed fighters well into Saturday.

Fourteen Palestinian militants were killed in the fire exchanges, according to an Israeli military statement on Sunday, and nine soldiers were wounded. Nur Shams residents have so far only identified five of the fatalities as militants. One was a 16-year-old schoolboy, authorities said.


On Sunday, residents picked through the rubble left by Israeli bulldozers which pushed through the streets of the Nur Shams, a heavily built-up area inhabited mainly by people displaced by the 1948 war and their descendants.

"This is a second Gaza," 63-year-old Fathi Younis told Reuters as she stood in front of the ruins of her partially destroyed house. "The houses are no longer fit to live in, the sounds of bulldozers are still in my ears."

Around her, shattered concrete mixed with broken pieces of furniture and hundreds of spent cartridges lay strewn about after hours of gun battles.

Thousands of Palestinians have been arrested and hundreds killed during regular operations in the West Bank by Israeli forces since the start of the Gaza war on Oct. 7, mostly members of armed groups, but also stone-throwing youths and bystanders.

A Palestinian ambulance driver was killed on Saturday as he went to pick up the wounded from a separate attack by violent Jewish settlers, Palestinian authorities said.

The West Bank and Gaza, territories Israel captured in the 1967 war, are among the lands the Palestinians seek for an independent state. U.S.-brokered peace talks broke down a decade ago.

Reporting by Yosri Al-Jamal near Hebron, Ali Sawafta in Nur Shams and Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem; Editing by Frances Kerry, Hugh Lawson and David Holmes


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