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Israeli unit kills three suspected militants

JABA, Palestinian Territories: Three Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli border police in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, with an Israeli minister saying the suspected militants fired on the undercover officers first.

The deadly raid came just hours before US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was expected for talks in Israel, and after the United Nations urged both sides to end the cycle of violence in the West Bank “immediately”.

The Palestinian Ministry announced the “martyrdom” of three men shot dead by Israeli forces in Jaba, near the hotspot of the northern city of Jenin.

Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is in charge of border policing, praised the undercover officers for “eliminating the despicable terrorists who opened fire on our fighters.”

The Ministry of Health identified the dead as Sufyan Fakhoury (26), Ahmed Fashafsha (22) and Nayef Malaysha (25). It did not give any further details.

Israel Police said special forces escorted by soldiers were in Jaba to arrest suspects involved in shooting at soldiers in the area, including Fakhoury and Fashafsha. It was said that the two were operatives of the militant group Islamic Jihad.

“During the operation, shots were fired from the wanted man’s car at undercover border police officers. Undercover Border Police officers responded with fire and killed the three gunmen in the car,” police said, adding that Malaysha was also a suspected militant.

“Several firearms and explosive devices were found in the vehicle,” the police statement said.

In a statement, Islamic Jihad condemned Israel for the “heinous attack” in Jaba.

The Palestinian Health Ministry on Thursday announced the seventh death in Tuesday’s raid, identifying him as Walid Nassar, 14.

Pentagon boss visits

Thursday’s raid came just hours before the Pentagon chief’s scheduled meeting in Israel, which was moved from Tel Aviv’s Defense Ministry to Ben Gurion Airport amid ongoing Israeli protests against the hard-line government that took office in December.

“At the request of the Israeli Defense Ministry, the location of Secretary Austin’s Thursday bilateral meetings in Tel Aviv with Israeli leaders will be moved by the Defense Ministry to a location near the airport,” Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder said.

A senior US defense official said Israeli officials had “concerns about planned protests near Defense Department headquarters” in Tel Aviv.

“The US, of course, supports the right to peaceful and non-violent protests… and looks forward to productive discussions,” the official added.

For nine weeks, protests have been held in Tel Aviv by opponents of the new government’s proposed legislative reforms that would give politicians more power over the courts. They have attracted tens of thousands of protesters.

A raid by the Israeli military in Jenin on Tuesday killed seven Palestinians, including a Hamas member accused of killing two Israeli settlers last month.

UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland said on Wednesday that the “cycle of violence … must be stopped immediately” and urged Israelis and Palestinians to “maintain calm and restraint”.

The Palestinian Health Ministry on Thursday announced the seventh death in Tuesday’s raid, identifying him as Walid Nassar, 14.

The violence in the West Bank comes amid rising tensions since the beginning of the year, coinciding with the tenure of Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government, which took office in December.

Some observers fear further violence, particularly around Jerusalem’s holy sites, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in late March, and the Jewish holiday of Passover in April.

Since the beginning of the year, the conflict has claimed the lives of 75 Palestinian adults and children, including militants and civilians.

Thirteen Israeli adults and children, including members of the security forces and civilians, and one Ukrainian civilian were killed over the same period, according to official sources from both sides.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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