2 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in West Bank gunfight

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Jan. 14 (UPI) — Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinian men during a gunfight at a village near the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian and Israeli officials said Saturday.

The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the slain men as Izz a-Din Basem Hamamra, 24, and Amjad Adnan Khaliliya, 23, who later were confirmed by Palestinian Islamic Jihad as members of the militant group, the Jerusalem Post reported.

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The newspaper quoted Israeli Defense Forces officials as saying the men were “terrorists” who were killed after they opened fire at soldiers from a passing vehicle, which then crashed into a wall as troops returned fire.

The Islamic Jihad claimed the men had died intervening against “occupation forces, which were carrying out a cowardly assassination operation.”

The latest deaths brought the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces so far this year to 12, including another Palestinian man who died Saturday from wounds sustained during a Jan. 2 incident, also near Jenin.

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem recorded 146 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank in 2022 — the highest total since 2004 during the height of the Second Intifada.

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According to the group, only 42 of those who died were armed or alleged to have been armed when they were killed.

Palestinian attackers killed six Israeli civilians in the West Bank and 11 others in Israel last year, B’Tselem said.

Israeli forces have stepped up raids since last March following an uptick in Palestinian attacks, including a shooting that killed five Israelis near Tel Aviv on March 30. The Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade militant group claimed responsibility for that attack.