Two Palestinians, including a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, were killed Thursday afternoon during an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin, Palestinian health officials said.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said one of the men, Farouk Salameh, was brought to a hospital in the city with gunshot injuries to his abdomen, chest and head.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) identified Salameh as a “commander” in the terror group.
In a joint statement, the Israel Defense Forces and Border Police said Salameh was involved in the killing of a veteran police commando earlier this year.
Command Sgt. Maj. Noam Raz was killed as troops were wrapping up a raid in Jenin in May.
Salameh also had ties to the Nablus-based Lion’s Den, and was suspected of planning additional shooting attacks, Israeli officials said.
An image circulating on social media showed Salameh standing next to Wadee al-Houh, the leader of Lion’s Den who was killed by Israeli troops in a raid last month.
During the operation in the Jenin refugee camp, police said forces raided a building where Salameh was located, leading to an exchange of gunfire. Palestinian media said Salameh was in a butchery slaughtering a cow for his wedding, slated for Saturday.
Salameh then fled the scene, and troops chased after him, during which he drew a handgun at them, police said. The forces opened fire, killing him.
A local wing of the PIJ also claimed its members opened fire on Israeli troops during the incident. According to Israeli officials, several other armed men who opened fire at troops were shot.
Israeli forces seized Salameh’s handgun, as well as another M-16 rifle and other weapons in the building.
Five suspects were also detained by troops during the raid, Israeli officials said. They were taken by the Shin Bet security agency for further questioning.
No Israeli forces were hurt during the raid, the military said.
The second killed Palestinian was named by the PA Health Ministry as 14-year-old Muhammad Khalouf. The ministry said three others were hurt in the clashes.
Earlier Thursday, a Palestinian man allegedly hurling Molotov cocktails was shot dead by Israeli troops as the military conducted extensive arrest raids across the West Bank.
The PA Health Ministry said Daoud Mahmoud Khalil Rayan, 42, was shot dead in clashes as Israeli troops operated in the town of Bayt Duqu, the hometown of a Palestinian attacker who rammed an Israeli soldier at a nearby checkpoint a day earlier.
The car-rammer, Habas Rayan, 54, was killed by the officer he seriously injured in the attack. The man killed early Thursday in Bayt Duqu was a relative of the checkpoint attacker, according to Palestinian media reports.
Separately, the IDF announced it had lifted a blockade on the northern West Bank city of Nablus following gains against a local terror group. The tight military cordon was first imposed on Nablus on October 12, but partially lifted last week.
The decision to first ease the blockade on the city came after Israel appeared to make major gains against the Lions Den terror group.
The ad hoc group, which had formed less than two months earlier, had claimed responsibility for near-nightly attacks on soldiers and settlements, including a shooting on October 11 that killed an Israeli soldier.
Last month, Israeli troops raided a house used by Lion’s Den in Nablus’s old city, killing the apparent leader of the group — al-Houh — and four other gunmen, and destroyed a bomb factory. That came a day after another senior member was killed in a bombing attributed to Israel.
At least a dozen members of Lion’s Den have also turned themselves in to the Palestinian Authority security services, including some prominent members, reportedly as part of a deal granting them protection from the Israeli crackdown, which has netted a number of arrests in recent weeks.
In recent months, Palestinian gunmen — mostly Lion’s Den members — have repeatedly targeted military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements, and civilians on the roads.
But the number of shootings had dropped in recent weeks, amid the IDF’s offensive actions against the terror group.
An anti-terror offensive launched earlier this year and focused on the northern West Bank has netted more than 2,000 arrests in near-nightly raids. It has also left over 125 Palestinians dead, many of them — but not all — while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.
The IDF’s anti-terror offensive in the West Bank was launched following a series of Palestinian attacks that killed 19 people earlier this year.
An Israeli man was killed in an attack in Hebron on Saturday, another woman was killed in a suspected attack in September, and four soldiers have been killed in the West Bank in attacks and during the arrest operations.