Palestinian teen gunman killed during clashes with Israeli troops near Nablus

Amer Abu Zaytoun, 16, shot in the head as Lion’s Den members claim to open fire at Israeli forces operating in Balata refugee camp

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, early January 5, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, early January 5, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

A Palestinian teenager was killed in fierce armed clashes with Israeli troops early Thursday near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, the military and Palestinian health officials said.

According to the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry, Amer Abu Zaytoun, 16, was shot in the head during the clashes in the Balata refugee camp.

The Israel Defense Forces and Border Police said troops came under “massive gunfire” as they operated in the camp to arrest two terror suspects.

The IDF said troops returned fire at armed Palestinians, adding that “suspects were hit.”

A police spokesman said Border Police officers “neutralized” a gunman who opened fire at troops from a “close range” as they began to leave the camp with the two suspects, referring to Abu Zaytoun.

Abu Zaytoun had previously published on Facebook images of himself brandishing an assault rifle, indicating his possible affiliation with a local armed group.

The Nablus-based Lion’s Den terror group in a statement claimed to have opened fire at Israeli forces in the camp.

No Israeli soldiers or officers were hurt during the clashes, officials said.

Separately, the IDF said troops arrested 12 more wanted Palestinians and seized several firearms in overnight raids across the West Bank, with violent incidents in some areas.

In all, 14 suspects were taken to be questioned by the Shin Bet security agency.

The clashes and arrests came amid a months-long Israeli anti-terror effort, mostly in the northern West Bank, following a series of terror attacks that left 31 people dead in 2022.

The IDF’s operation has netted more than 2,500 arrests in near-nightly raids. It also left over 170 Palestinians dead in 2022, and another four since the beginning of the year, many of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, though some were uninvolved civilians.

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