JENIN, West Bank (Reuters) – Israeli police killed a Palestinian gunman and captured another in a clash in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, saying they were part of a cell responsible for an ambush in which a Jewish settler was shot dead.
Two police commandos were wounded in the raid in the city of Jenin, a spokesman said. Such flare-ups have been rare in the West Bank, where Palestinian security forces last year resumed cooperation with Israel despite the stalling of negotiations on statehood.
An official of the Palestinian health ministry said it had been informed by the Israelis the dead man was Ahmed Jarrar, a Hamas gunman and the son of a senior commander of the Islamist group, Naser Jarrar, who was killed by Israeli forces in 2002.
But the official said the Palestinian side had not seen the body, and his family could not confirm the death. Three other Palestinians were wounded, the official said.
Witnesses said the Israeli forces had bulldozed at least one building as they closed in on their targets, and that it was possible another gunman was buried under the rubble.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the commandos had gone after the suspected killers of Rabbi Raziel Shevah, a resident of a settlement outpost near the Palestinian town of Nablus who was shot in his car in a drive-by attack on Jan. 9.
“We will reach anybody who will try to harm Israel’s citizens and we will bring them to justice,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, commenting on the operation, said during a visit to India.
Tensions in the region have risen since U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on Dec. 6 recognizing disputed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and at least 18 Palestinians and one Israeli have been killed since.
“The cell in Jenin is not the first and will not be the last,” Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.
“The criminal role of (Palestinian) security coordination (with Israel) will not succeed in preventing the resistance from confronting Trump’s decision and protecting Jerusalem.”
Hamas opposes coexistence with Israel.
Trump’s reversal of decades of U.S. policy has enraged Palestinians, who want to create an independent state including Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israel captured those areas in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally. It says the entire city is its eternal, indivisible capital.
U.S.-led peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014. A bid by Trump’s administration to restart them has shown no real signs of progress. Vice President Mike Pence is due to visit the region from Jan 20 to 23.
Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Andrew Roche