Israeli forces kill Palestinian man in Nablus raid

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Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man during a raid in the city of Nablus early on Monday, the Palestinian health ministry said, the latest incident in more than a year of surging violence in the occupied West Bank.

The militant Islamic Jihad group claimed the dead man was a member, identifying him as 22-year-old Saleh Sabra.

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The Israeli military said suspects hurled rocks and explosives and fired at its forces in Nablus, a flashpoint city where there have been regular raids and clashes. The soldiers shot at the suspects and “a hit was identified,” the military said.

It added that the forces were in Nablus to prepare for the possible demolition of the home of a Palestinian suspected of killing two brothers from a Jewish settlement near the village of Huwara on Feb. 26.

The attack prompted a settler rampage in Huwara, during which a Palestinian man was killed, and cars and homes were set alight while people were inside.

Monday’s raid, near a refugee camp in a part of the West Bank where Palestinians exercise limited self-rule, sparked “intense confrontations” with Palestinian fighters, the Palestinian WAFA news agency reported. Reuters could not immediately verify whether Sabra took part in the clashes.

Israel says its policy of demolishing the homes of perpetrators of attacks bolsters deterrence and contributes to security. Palestinians and rights groups have criticized the practice as a form of collective punishment that harms innocent families.

The Nablus raid came after an Egyptian-mediated truce ended five days of fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad in Gaza last week, in which 34 Palestinians and an Israeli were killed.

Monday is also when Palestinians mark 75 years since what they call the Nakba, or “catastrophe”, when hundreds of thousands were forced from their homes or fled in the 1948 war that accompanied the foundation of Israel.

Israel-Palestinian violence has been intensifying for months, with frequent Israeli military raids and settler violence in the West Bank amid a spate of Palestinian attacks on Israelis. Since January, more than 140 Palestinians and at least 19 Israelis and foreigners have been killed in the West Bank and Israel.

Israel captured Gaza and the West Bank, areas Palestinians want for an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital, in a 1967 war. Israeli forces and settlers withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Statehood talks have been frozen since 2014.

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