JERUSALEM/RAMALLAH: Israel says security forces killed three Palestinian militants in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday who had been responsible for recent shooting attacks.
The Shin Bet internal security agency says the men were armed and in a vehicle, and were killed in a clash with security forces. No Israelis were harmed in the shooting, it said.
The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed the three deaths.
Photos of the three men circulating online show them posing with assault rifles, with one wearing a headband of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an armed group loosely tied to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party.
The militant group said the three men are “heroic martyrs” and vowed revenge in a statement circulated on a Fatah-affiliated social media group. It identified them as Ibrahim Al-Nablusi, Adham Mabrouk and Mohammed Al-Dakhil, without giving their ages.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz congratulated the security forces and said he had recently ordered stepped-up security in the area. “We will continue our proactive operations, and we will thwart and catch anyone who tries to harm human life,” he said.
Recent weeks have seen several stabbing and shooting attacks by Palestinians in the West Bank. An Israeli settler was shot dead near a settlement outpost in December.
Settlers have also carried out several attacks recently against Palestinians and Israeli activists, causing injuries and property damage but no fatalities.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, and Palestinians want it to form the main part of their future state.
Nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers reside in the territory alongside more than 2.5 million Palestinians.
Meanwhile, the Palestine Liberation Organization named loyalists of Mahmoud Abbas to top leadership posts on Monday, with Hussein Al-Sheikh appointed to the organization’s executive committee.
But no decision was made on naming a new PLO secretary-general and chief negotiator with Israel, two key posts held by Saeb Erekat, who died in 2020 after contracting coronavirus.
At the end of the rare two-day meeting of the PLO’s central committee, officials said the roles would be filled at a later date.
Ahead of the meeting, analysts had said the 86-year-old Abbas, the PLO’s chairman, was seeking to elevate Sheikh, perhaps to position him as a favored successor to take charge as president of the Palestinian Authority.
Mohamed Mustafa, another Abbas supporter who chairs the Palestinian Investment Fund, was selected to take the executive committee seat vacated by Hanan Ashrawi, who resigned in 2020.
Abbas loyalist Rawhi Fattouh was elected chair of the Palestinian National Council — the PLO’s parliament in exile.
Analysts have said that support for the PLO, an organization founded in 1964 and charged with leading the battle for statehood against Israel, was growing increasingly unpopular among Palestinian people, amid frustration over its failures to hold open elections for key positions.
Addressing PLO executives on Sunday, Abbas pledged commitment to reform, calling it a “continuous process.”
But as the meeting started on Sunday demonstrations calling for Abbas’s resignation were held in Ramallah and in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas.
Hamas is not part of the PLO, and has boycotted the organization over its decision to negotiate with Israel.