© Reuters. General view of the closed shops during a strike following an Israeli raid in Nablus, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, September 25, 2022. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta
By Raneen Sawafta
NABLUS, West Bank (Reuters) – Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian militant on Sunday during an army operation in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials said, in the latest in a series of incidents in recent months around the volatile town of Nablus.
“The Dens of Lions”, a Palestinian umbrella group formed of militants from different factions, said the man, Said Al-Kawni, was a “hero of resistance” and died during “clashes with occupation forces”.
Medical workers said three other Palestinians were wounded by Israeli gunfire in the incident, which was confirmed by the Israeli military.
“Overnight, during IDF (Israel Defense Forces) routine activity, IDF soldiers spotted armed suspects driving in a vehicle and motorcycle adjacent to the city of Nablus,” the military said. “IDF soldiers responded by firing towards the armed suspects. Hits were identified.”
The latest in a near-daily series of incidents around Nablus and the nearby town of Jenin underlined once more the volatile security climate on the West Bank as Israel heads towards elections on Nov. 1.
In Nablus, site of one of the largest refugee camps in the West Bank, most shops were closed on Sunday after militant factions called for a general strike.
About 70 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the Israeli military launched its Operation Breakwater against militants on March 31 in response to a string of fatal Palestinian street attacks in Israel. The toll includes militants and civilians.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid last week called for a revival of long-dormant efforts to secure a two state solution to the conflict, following an appeal last month by U.S. President Joe Biden.
However, there has been little sign of an end to the clashes and with pre-election polls favouring former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a strong opponent of a two state solution, expectations of any immediate breakthrough are low.
U.S.-brokered peace talks aimed at establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, collapsed in 2014 and the steady expansion of Israeli settlements since then has made reviving the talks increasingly problematic.
Israeli security officials have called on the Palestinian Authority to do more to rein in violence by gunmen associated with factions like Islamic Jihad, which are well entrenched in cities like Jenin and Nablus.
However the Palestinian Authority, increasingly unpopular among many in the West Bank, says its ability to exert its rule has been systematically undermined by Israel.
On Sunday, 30 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails began a hunger strike in protest at their conditions of detention.