Israeli forces killed two Palestinians overnight in the occupied West Bank after attacks claimed the lives of three Israelis, including a baby, stoking fears on Thursday of renewed violence.
In a separate attack, an assailant stabbed two Israeli border police in Jerusalem’s Old City before being shot dead, in the most turbulent 24 hours in the West Bank and Jerusalem in months.
The Palestinians killed overnight were suspected of being behind two shootings in recent months that have had Israeli intelligence concerned about a potential uptick in violence in the West Bank.
The deadly raids come just as a deal had been secured to restore relative calm to another part of the Palestinian territories, the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli Shin Bet security service said late Wednesday its forces had killed Salah Barghouti during an operation in a village north of Ramallah in the central West Bank.
The 29-year-old had been accused of shooting at Israelis outside a settlement on Sunday, wounding seven people, including a woman who was seven months pregnant.
Doctors tried to save the baby boy with an emergency cesarean but he died on Wednesday, before being buried in Jerusalem.
His mother remains in hospital in a serious condition.
The exact details of Barghouti’s shooting remained murky, but pictures have circulated online of a taxi with multiple bullet holes north of Ramallah.
Separately, in the early hours of Thursday, a Palestinian suspected of shooting dead two Israelis two months ago was killed dead by Israeli forces near Nablus in the northern West Bank.
Ashraf Naalwa, 23, was killed when forces tried to arrest him, Shin Bet said in a statement.
The house near the northern Nablus where Naalwa was found was peppered with bullet holes after the raid, with furniture destroyed, an AFP journalist at the scene said.
Local resident Huwayda Bushkar said she saw Israeli soldiers carrying a body as they left.
On October 7, Naalwa allegedly shot and killed two Israelis, 28-year-old Kim Yehezhel and 35-year-old Ziv Hagbi, in the Barkan industrial zone settlement.
The two were employees of the recycling company where Naalwa worked.
A third incident on Thursday morning saw a man stab two Israeli border police in Jerusalem’s Old City before being shot dead.
There were no immediate details on the identity of the assailant.
– ‘Heart breaking’ –
The violence came amid heightened tensions in the West Bank.
Since Sunday’s attack Israeli forces had made a series of incursions into central Ramallah, the home of secular Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
In recent days Hebrew posters have been erected in the West Bank encouraging the killing of Abbas.
Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas hailed Sunday’s shooting, saying it proved “resistance” was still alive in the West Bank.
Israel seized control of the West Bank and east Jerusalem in a 1967 war.
Around 600,000 Israelis now live in settlements there considered illegal by the international community.
Many Palestinians consider violence against Israelis in the West Bank a justified response to the growth of settlements on land they see as theirs.
Speaking Wednesday evening before Barghouti was killed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed those who carried out the drive-by shooting would be found and brought to justice.
“We lost a few hours ago a newborn baby, four days old,” Netanyahu said in an address to foreign media.
US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said in a Twitter message that the baby’s death was “absolutely heart-breaking”.
“This is an attack Hamas praised as ‘heroic,'” he wrote.
Source: National News Agency