According to the Lions’ Den armed group, three fighters were preparing an ambush for Israeli soldiers when shots were fired.
On Sunday morning, a shootout between Israeli forces and Palestinians took three lives close to the occupied West Bank city of Nablus. Jihad Mohammed Al-Shami (age 24), Odai Othman Al-Shami (age 22), and Mohamed Raed Dbeik (age 18) were named by the Palestinian health ministry.
In a statement, the Lions’ Den armed group from Nablus claimed that the three were preparing an ambush for Israeli soldiers in Sarra town, southwest of the city. They came across soldiers from the prestigious Golani Brigade infantry unit and engaged them in fire.
In the ensuing firefight, all three of them perished, and a fourth man who was allegedly with them was taken into custody. Golani troops were engaged in a “proactive activity” when they were attacked and fired back, according to a statement from the Israeli military. Israel suffered no casualties, the military added.
According to Palestinian media, the Israeli army kept the car and the three men’s bodies in storage. Israeli attacks in the West Bank have increased, while Palestinian resistance has gotten stronger, raising tensions between Israel and Palestine.
At least 81 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis this year, including 15 children, or nearly one death per day. The Palestinian health ministry claims that it has been the bloodiest year thus far since 2000.
One Palestinian was shot and killed by a settler in Qalqilya, west of Nablus, on Friday. The other Palestinian, a 16-year-old boy, was killed by a soldier. A day earlier, a Palestinian from the West Bank opened fire on a busy street in Tel Aviv, injuring three people, two of whom were in critical condition.
This year, Palestinians have killed at least 13 Israelis. In advance of April, when Ramadan, Easter, and Passover overlap, concerns about a larger outbreak of violence are growing.
William Burns, the director of the CIA, recently stated that the current tensions have an “unhappy resemblance” to the Second Intifada—a period of roughly five years of intensified conflict that began at the turn of the century.
Reason for Tension
As Israeli attacks get worse and Palestinian resistance gets stronger, there are more and more concerns that the occupied West Bank could see an even larger outbreak of violence. In recent months, there has been a sharp rise in the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and settlers. This rise has occurred amid a radical shift in Israeli politics in which more and more officials are making derogatory remarks about Palestinians.
Many people worry that the worst is yet to come because Muslim, Christian, and Jewish holidays overlap next month. The West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel has occupied since 1967, have seen the most recent wave of attacks on Palestinians.
At least 167 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces and settlers in the West Bank last year, and since January of this year, at least 71 people have been killed, or nearly one person a day.
The Palestinian health ministry claims that this is the bloodiest beginning to a year since 2000.