Six Palestinians, including a leader of a rising militant group, were killed on Tuesday after Israeli forces raided the West Bank city of Nablus, sparking one of the biggest shootings in weeks, Palestinian officials said.
The forces, which included snipers, soldiers with portable rocket launchers and Shin Bet intelligence agents, fanned out across Nablus, fighting dozens of armed fighters, stone throwers and tire burners, according to the army. .
Shards of glass and scrap littered the cobblestones of the Old City as merchants cleared rubble after the raid, which the army said targeted an explosives manufacturing facility belonging to the militant group “Lions Den”.
The army said Wadi’ al-Houh, 31, a leader of the “Lions Den” and responsible for the group’s bomb-making, was killed in the operation.
The “Lions Den”, a group of Nablus gunmen, mostly young and with vague affiliations, has grown rapidly in the past year, engaging in repeated clashes with Israeli forces amid escalating violence in West Bank in recent months.
In all, five Palestinians, including two members of the “Lions Den”, were killed in Nablus, while a sixth died in a protest near the West Bank town of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, Palestinian health authorities said.
At least 20 people, including some gunmen and members of the Palestinian security forces, were also injured in Nablus, which has been the center of violent clashes in recent months and has been under an Israeli blockade for days.
Mahmoud Al-Aloul, vice president of the Fatah Movement, told Palestinian television that Palestinian security forces saw Israeli undercover agents entering Nablus and that there was a heavy exchange of fire that caused several injuries among the PA forces.
An Israeli military official said there was no intention to attack any PA forces that might have been caught in the crossfire.