Israeli forces kill 4 Palestinian gunmen in burning West Bank town

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JENIN, West Bank, Sept 28 (Reuters) – Israeli forces killed four Palestinian gunmen in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, continuing a six-month raid campaign sparked by a series of deadly street attacks in Israel.

Commandos, some of them undercover, were sent to the city of Jenin to capture two Palestinians suspected of carrying out ambushes with firearms, Israeli police said. The Palestinians opened fire and detonated a bomb, and were shot down, the statement added.

The raid sparked clashes elsewhere in Jenin, which, along with the neighboring city of Nablus, has been the focus of Israeli forces. About 40 Palestinians were injured, according to doctors.

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The Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades factions said four of their gunmen were killed. One of them worked for the security services of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which exercises limited autonomy in the West Bank.

“We badly need members of the security services,” an umbrella group of local activists said in an open statement addressed to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“Declare combat, and we will be your soldiers. This enemy only knows the language of firepower.”

Israel and the United States have pressured the PA to do more to bolster security. The PA accuses Israel of undermining its credibility.

“We did not hesitate to go where the Palestinian Authority did not go to make arrests,” Ram Ben-Barak, chairman of the Israeli parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committee, told AFP. Ynet Radio. “Does this create friction? Yes.

Another of the gunmen killed in Jenin was the brother of a Palestinian who shot dead three people in Tel Aviv in April – among attacks that killed 19 people in Israel and sparked its “Operation Breakwater” campaign. More than 70 Palestinians, including gunmen and civilians, have since been killed.

US-brokered peace talks aimed at establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem collapsed in 2014, while Israel expanded settlements in several areas. Gaza is ruled by Hamas Islamists opposed to coexistence with Israel.

Washington has sought ways to improve Palestinian conditions while addressing Israeli security concerns.

Tom Nides, US Ambassador to Jerusalem, said the Allenby Crossing, an Israeli-run border crossing for Palestinians between the West Bank and Jordan, would expand its opening hours from October 24 to a 24/7 for a pilot period.

“(It) will make a real difference in people’s lives! he tweeted.

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Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, writing by Dan Williams, editing by William Maclean and Nick Macfie

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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