Israeli troops killed three Palestinians wanted in connection with a deadly attack against Israelis, the Israeli military said Thursday, the latest bloodshed in a relentless wave of violence.
The military said the men were behind an attack last month on a car near a Jewish West Bank settlement that killed a British-Israeli mother and two of her daughters.
The military said it entered the heart of the flashpoint city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank early Thursday, and in a fierce gunbattle killed three suspects, two of whom it alleged were militants affiliated with Hamas. It identified the men as Hassan Katnani, Moaz Masri and Ibrahim Hura.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said three people were killed but did not immediately identify them.
The violence in Nablus comes at a particularly sensitive time in the region, days after a prominent Palestinian prisoner who was staging a lengthy hunger strike over his detention died in Israeli custody. His death set off a volley of rockets from militants in Gaza and airstrikes in the coastal enclave that killed one man.
Israel has been staging near-nightly arrest raids into West Bank villages, towns and cities for more than a year in an operation prompted by a wave of Palestinian attacks against Israelis last year. Israel says the raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. The Palestinians see the attacks as further entrenchment of Israel's 56-year, open-ended occupation of lands they seek for a future independent state.
The raids have been met by a surge in Palestinian attacks.
Some 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the raids were launched. Israel says most have been militants, but stone-throwing youth and people not involved in the confrontations have also been killed.
During that same time, nearly 50 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis.