Six Killed As Israel Targets Militants In West Bank Raid

Five Palestinians, reportedly all gunmen, have been killed in a major Israeli raid against a militant group in the occupied West Bank.

A sixth Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops who were attacked with stones in a protest against the raid, Palestinian medical sources say.

The operation in the northern city of Nablus targeted the recently formed Lion’s Den group.

The group killed an Israeli soldier in a shooting earlier this month.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had locked down Nablus for the past two weeks amid an intensive search for the killer of 21-year-old Staff Sergeant Ido Baruch. Sgt Baruch was shot dead in an ambush near an Israeli settlement about five miles (8km) away.

There has been an intensification of violence between Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank in recent weeks amid an ongoing Israeli operation to root out militants following a wave of deadly attacks against Israelis earlier this year.

The Lion’s Den group was formed following near daily arrest raids by Israeli forces targeting militants, concentrated in the northern West Bank. It is believed to number a few dozen members and has carried out attacks and attempted attacks around the Nablus area and as far afield as Tel Aviv, according to the Israeli military.

The group had recently defied calls from the Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs Nablus, to give up its weapons in return for becoming part of the official Palestinian security forces.

The IDF said security forces raided an apartment in the casbah in Nablus, which it said was used as a bomb-making factory and headquarters of the group.

Palestinians called via loudspeakers for locals to come out and defend the city, as young men poured into the streets.

A fierce gun battle erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinians in which five were killed.

At least three who died have been identified as members of Lion’s Den, including a senior commander and founder of the group. Israeli media say all five belonged to it.

More than 20 Palestinians were wounded in the clashes, the Palestinian health ministry said. There are no reports of Israeli casualties.

Israeli troops blew the apartment up during the operation. Local reports say an anti-tank missile was fired at the building.

A Palestinian was also shot dead in the town of Nabi Saleh further south when youths threw stones at Israeli soldiers in protest at the Nablus raid, reports say.

The raid came amid a broader, ongoing operation launched by the IDF named Break the Wave after 17 Israelis and two Ukrainians were killed by Palestinians and Israeli Arab attackers earlier this year.

On the Palestinian side, more than 100, including militants, attackers and civilians, have been killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since January amid the upsurge in violence, making this year one of the deadliest for Palestinians since 2015.




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