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Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank — Palestinian ministry

By AFP - May 23,2023 - Last updated at May 23,2023

Mourners march with the body of one of the Palestinian fighters killed overnight in the Balata camp for Palestinian refugees on the outskirts of Nablus in the occupied West Bank on Monday (AFP photo)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Israeli forces killed three Palestinian fighters on Monday in a raid on a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.

In a statement, the Palestinian health ministry identified the three men killed in Balata camp in Nablus as Muhammad Abu Zaytoun, 32, Fathi Abu Rizk, 30, and Abdullah Abu Hamdan, 24.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas's Fateh Party, said in a statement that the three were among the group's "fighters".

The group's emblem was wrapped around the foreheads of the men in a morgue, while their bodies were shrouded in the Palestinian flag.

Palestinian presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh described the killings as a "veritable massacre" and charged that repeated Israeli raids and attacks by settlers constituted a "major war crime and a collective punishment".

He said "silence" from the United States had emboldened Israelis to escalate attacks, calling on Washington to "immediately intervene to stop the Israeli madness that will drag the region toward explosion".


Escalating violence 


Witnesses told AFP that Israeli forces raided several houses in the camp overnight in search of people wanted by the army.

Gunfire and loud explosions rocked the camp, the witnesses said, adding that a house was demolished.

Following the raid, Palestinians inspected the rubble of a damaged building and salvaged belongings.

The Hamas resistant group, which rules the blockaded Gaza Strip, described those killed as “freedom fighters”.

“Hamas reiterates that resisting the [Israeli] occupation is a legitimate right for the Palestinian people in their quest for freedom,” the group said in a statement.

Densely-populated Balata is home to some 27,000 people, making it the largest camp in the West Bank, according to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

The latest raids come just over a week into a fragile Gaza ceasefire after a five-day cross-border conflict between Israel and the Islamic Jihad militant group.

Since the start of the year, at least 153 Palestinians have been killed in violence linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources from both sides.

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