Friday, June 17, 2022
JENIN, WEST BANK: Israeli troops killed three Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Friday in what the Palestinian leadership said was a bid to hamstring next month's visit by US President Joe Biden but the Israeli authorities painted as the "foiling of an attack".
The incident was the latest violence in Jenin, which has seen stepped-up military raids in recent weeks.
The military said troops operating in two parts of the town to confiscate weapons overnight "came under fire, including from a car, and shot back".
A local group claimed the dead gunmen as its own, saying in a statement they had been "martyred while carrying out their holy duty in confronting occupation forces who raided Jenin".
Hamas said one of the gunmen was its member.
Much of the Jenin population is descended from refugees from the 1948 war of Israel's foundation. The town is plagued by poverty and weak governance.
During Biden's July 13-16 visit he will meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders "to reiterate his strong support for a two-state solution, with equal measures of security, freedom, and opportunity for the Palestinian people," the White House said.
Talks on Palestinian statehood collapsed in 2014 and show no sign of revival. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett rejects sovereignty for the Palestinians, offering economic cooperation instead.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' office accused Israel of an "assassination" of the gunmen that could spark escalation.
Israel's action "comes ahead of US President Joe Biden's visit to the region, in an attempt to avoid any political commitment,” Abbas' office said in a statement.