Two Palestinian gunmen accused of recent attack killed by Israeli forces in Nablus

Shin Bet says men were behind shooting in small West Bank Samaritan community on Wednesday; troops map home of Hamas gunman who killed soldier

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

Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces during a military raid in the West Bank city of Nablus,, July 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces during a military raid in the West Bank city of Nablus,, July 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Two armed Palestinians accused of carrying out a recent shooting attack were killed by Israeli forces in the northern West Bank city of Nablus on Friday morning, the Shin Bet security agency said, the latest in a series of violent events in the West Bank.

According to the Shin Bet, the pair, named as Khairi Shaheen, 34, and Hamza Maqbool, 32, were responsible for carrying out a shooting attack on Wednesday at a small Samaritan community south of Nablus, near the Jewish settlement of Har Bracha. No injuries were caused in the attack.

The Shin Bet said members of the elite police Yamam counterterrorism unit attempted to arrest Shaheen and Maqbool. “The two were killed during an exchange of fire with our forces,” the agency said.

Two handguns allegedly used by the gunmen in the Wednesday attack were seized by Israeli forces.

In a separate operation in Nablus, the Israel Defense Forces said troops detained three wanted Palestinians. Another three Palestinian terror suspects were detained in other areas of the West Bank on Friday morning, the IDF said.

The clashes come a day after a soldier, Staff Sgt. Shilo Yosef Amir, 22, was killed by a Palestinian gunman near the settlement of Kedumim. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

Handguns seized by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Nablus from two Palestinian gunmen accused of a recent attack, July 7, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Early Friday morning, the IDF said troops measured the home of the Hamas gunman, Ahmed Yassin Ghaidan, in the village of Qibya, ahead of a potential demolition.

Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks as a matter of policy. The efficacy of the policy has been hotly debated even within the Israeli security establishment, while human rights activists denounce the practice as unjust collective punishment.

Israeli troops take measurements at the home of a Hamas gunman who killed an IDF soldier, in the West Bank village of Qibya, July 7, 2023. (Israel Defense Force)

The IDF said that clashes erupted in Qibya during the operation, with one soldier suffering light injuries after a stone was hurled at him by Palestinian rioters. Troops responded with riot dispersal means, the IDF said.

On Thursday, the military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said the killing of Amir was a response to a major Israeli operation in Jenin earlier this week and over recent settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

During the IDF operation in Jenin, 12 Palestinian gunmen were killed alongside one Israeli soldier, Sgt. First Class David Yehuda Yitzhak from the Egoz commando unit. The IDF was investigating if Yitzhak was hit by so-called friendly fire.

Rubble on the streets of the West Bank city of Jenin, following a major Israeli offensive, July 4, 2023. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90 )

During the past year, Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly targeted military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements and civilians on the roads.

Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have been high across the West Bank for the past year and a half, with the military carrying out near-nightly raids, amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks.

Since the beginning of this year, Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank have killed 25 people, including Thursday’s shooting.

According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 150 West Bank Palestinians have been killed during that time — most of them during clashes with security forces or while carrying out attacks, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under unclear circumstances.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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