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Israeli Raids on West Bank Militants Kill Six

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Nablus, Palestinian Territories

By Jaafar Ashtiyeh

Six Palestinians were killed in sweeping Israeli raids Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, in what the army described as an assault targeting the emerging “Lion’s Den” armed group. online news

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that Wadih Al Houh, a leader of a new coalition of Palestinian fighters dubbed The Lions’ Den, had been among those killed in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

The Palestinian health ministry initially reported three dead and 19 wounded shot “by Israeli fire in Nablus”.

Later statements said that two more Palestinians had died in Nablus, while another Palestinian was also killed after being shot in the chest in overnight clashes at the village of Nabih Saleh, north of Ramallah.

The Israeli army said it had carried out a vast operation with police and intelligence officers targeting a site “used by the main operatives of the ‘Lion’s Den'”, describing it as a “headquarters and a workshop for making weapons” of the militants.

“The forces detonated the explosive manufacturing site,” the army statement added, which did not provide a death toll. “During the activity, multiple armed suspects were hit.”

At the death reported at Nabih Saleh, the army confirmed it had “spotted a suspect throwing an explosive device” at soldiers, who opened fire.

In a statement posted to Telegram, the nascent militant group were defiant. “Surrender is the path of humiliation,” it said. “It’s time for the lions to come out of their den.”

Violence has increased in recent months in the northern West Bank, the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 by Israel, especially in the areas of Nablus and Jenin.

More than 100 Palestinian fighters and civilians have been killed since the start of the year, the heaviest toll in the West Bank for nearly seven years, according to the United Nations.

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Lapid, speaking on Israeli public broadcaster Kan radio, warned Palestinian militants that “they need to know that we will reach them wherever they are”.

“Israel will never stop acting for its security and we will do what needs to be done,” Lapid added, who is campaigning ahead of November 1 elections. “The goal is to reduce terrorism and ensure that it does not affect Israeli citizens”.

  • ‘Aggression’ –

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is establishing “urgent contacts in order to stop this aggression against our people” in Nablus, his spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeinah said in a statement.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh warned in a statement that the violence would “plunge Palestine into escalation”.

Islamic Jihad reported its fighters were involved in “violent clashes” with Israeli forces in Nablus, and threatened Israel with reprisals “for its crimes”.

In recent weeks, a group of young Palestinian fighters — some affiliated with mainstream groups such as Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad — have launched militant attacks from Nablus.

The new group, called “Areen al-Ossoud” or “The Lions’ Den” in English, claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on an Israeli soldier two weeks ago in the occupied West Bank.

Late leader Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, nicknamed “The Lion of Nablus”, was known for galvanising the youth before he was shot dead by Israeli forces in August. He has since become a folk hero to Palestinians on social media.

In the aftermath, the Israeli army tightened its grip on Nablus, setting up controls to identify people leaving the city and constantly scanning the skies of the city with observation drones.

On Saturday night, a Lions’ Den fighter, Tamer al-Kilani, was killed in Nablus by an “explosion” attributed by the group and the Israeli press to a bomb remotely activated by the Israeli army.

The army did not comment on these claims.

Separately, rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday called for an International Criminal Court (ICC) probe into possible “war crimes” committed in August by both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants during deadly fighting in Gaza.

At least 49 Palestinians, including combatants but also civilians including children, were killed in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip during the three-day conflict.


© Agence France-Presse. All rights are reserved.

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