Israeli troops kill two Palestinian gunmen suspected of recent West Bank attack

IDF, police say pair involved in carrying out shooting earlier in the week that injured Israeli man; another two wanted Palestinians arrested in Tulkarem

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

A boy looks at blood stains after an IDF  raid in the Nur Shams refugee camp near the city of Tulkarem, in the West Bank Saturday, May 6, 2023.  (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A boy looks at blood stains after an IDF raid in the Nur Shams refugee camp near the city of Tulkarem, in the West Bank Saturday, May 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Two Palestinian gunmen were killed by Israeli troops during a raid early Saturday on the Nur Shams refugee camp in the West Bank, the military and Palestinian health officials said.

In a joint statement, the Israel Defense Forces and police said soldiers and undercover Border Police officers entered the camp near the city of Tulkarem to arrest several suspects accused of being behind a shooting attack on Tuesday near the West Bank settlement of Avnei Hefetz in which one person was lightly injured.

“The two gunmen were shot and killed after attempting to flee the scene,” the statement said. Police later published a video showing the armed gunmen being shot dead as they attempted to escape via a rooftop.

The pair were identified as Hamza Jamil Kharyoush and Samer Salah al-Shafei, both 22.

Kharyoush and al-Shafei were claimed as members of the so-called Tulkarem Battalion, a new loosely organized Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group wing in the West Bank city.

Palestinian media reports said the two were “members of the resistance” and killed during an exchange of fire.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said al-Shafei was shot in the neck, chest, and abdomen, and Kharyoush was shot in the chest, abdomen, and left leg. A third Palestinian was brought to a hospital in Tulkarem in a stable condition, the ministry added.

Graphic footage posted to social media showed Israeli troops searching the bodies of the two men on the roof of a building. One video showed a soldier taking an assault rifle from the body of one of the killed gunmen.

Police later published images showing two assault rifles, magazines, and a military vest seized from the men’s bodies.

The IDF said two additional wanted Palestinians who are suspected of being involved in the shooting attack last week, Muhammad Abd al-Fattah, 21, and Ibrahim Ahmed, 19, were detained in the area. The pair were handed over to the Shin Bet security agency for further questioning.

No Israeli soldiers were hurt during the raid.

Firearms and equipment seized during a military raid near Tulkarem on May 6, 2023. (Israel Police)

In the shooting attack on Tuesday, eyewitnesses said at least one gunman exited a vehicle at the Shufa Junction — close to the Palestinian town of the same name — and fired toward three cars leaving the settlement in the northern West Bank.

A 39-year-old Israeli man traveling in one of the vehicles was lightly injured by glass shards, medics said.

Samaria Regional Council chair Yossi Dagan inspects damage caused to an Israeli-owned car following a shooting attack near Avnei Hefetz in the northern West Bank, May 2, 2023. (Sergei Kamshev/Samaria Regional Council)

The Tulkarem raid comes days after Israeli forces killed three Palestinian gunmen –including two accused of killing Lucy Dee and her daughters Maia and Rina in a shooting attack in the Jordan Valley last month — during a raid in the West Bank city of Nablus.

Troops entered the Nablus Old City on Thursday in order to arrest Hassan Qatnani and Moaz al-Masri, the Hamas terrorists who allegedly carried out the deadly attack on April 7.

The three members of the Dee family were dual Israeli-British nationals who lived in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, just south of Jerusalem, after moving to Israel some eight years ago.

The Palestinian gunmen opened fire at the victims’ car near the settlement of Hamra in the northern Jordan Valley, as they were heading north on a trip to Tiberias on April 7. The vehicle crashed on the highway’s shoulder, and the terrorists then fired at the car again at close range. The daughters, 20-year-old Maia and 15-year-old Rina were declared dead at the scene, while Lucy, 48, was rushed to a hospital in critical condition but died three days later.

From left: Lucy Dee is seen with her daughters Rina and Maia. The two sisters were shot dead in a terrorist attack in the West Bank on April 7, 2023. Their mother, critically hurt in the attack, died on April 10, 2023. (Courtesy)

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high for the past year, with the Israeli military conducting near-nightly raids in the West Bank amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks.

Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank have killed 19 people since the beginning of the year and left several more seriously hurt.

At least 101 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year, most of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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