NABLUS (a1tv news) 6 Palestinians, including a leader of a rising militant group, were killed on Tuesday after Israeli forces raided the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday, setting off one of the largest firefights in weeks, Palestinian officials said.
Forces including snipers, soldiers with shoulder-fired missiles and Shin Bet intelligence agents were deployed across Nablus, battling dozens of armed fighters as well as people throwing stones and burning tyres, the military said.
Shards of glass and scrap metal covered the cobblestone of the Old City as shopkeepers cleared debris in the aftermath of the raid which the military said targeted an explosives manufacturing site of the “Den of Lions” militant group.
The military said 31-year-old Wadi’ al-Houh, a “Den of Lions” leader who it said was responsible for producing pipe bombs and obtaining weapons for the group, was targeted and killed in the operation.
The “Den of Lions”, a group of mainly young Nablus gunmen with loose factional affiliations, has grown rapidly over the past year and fought repeated clashes with Israeli forces as violence has surged across the West Bank in recent months.
In all, five Palestinians, including two members of the “Den of Lions”, were killed in Nablus while a sixth man was killed in a protest near the West Bank town of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, Palestinian health officials said.
At least 20 people, including some gunmen and members of the Palestinian security forces, were also wounded in Nablus, which has been at the centre of violent clashes in recent months and which has been under an Israeli blockade for days.
Mahmoud Al-Aloul, deputy chairman of the Fatah Movement, told Palestine TV that Palestinian security forces spotted Israeli undercover agents entering Nablus and a heavy exchange of fire followed, leading to several injuries among PA forces.
An Israeli military official said there was no intention to target any PA forces who may have been caught in the crossfire.
More than 100 Palestinians from the West Bank have been killed this year, while a string of fatal street attacks by Palestinians have killed 20 people in Israel and Israeli settlements.
Four members of Israel’s security forces have also been killed, an Israeli military official said, including at least one killed by the Den of Lions.
Palestinian officials say the Den of Lions has emerged amid rising frustration among youths in Nablus at confrontations with Israeli settlers and the military but with no clearly articulated political goals.
A senior Den of Lions member, Tamer Kilani, was killed overnight on Sunday in what Palestinians described as a targeted explosion carried out by Israel. The militant group vowed to take revenge.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Abbas’s office had reached out to the United States to intervene.