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Israeli forces shoot dead 3 Palestinians in Jenin refugee camp

March 22, 2014 8:18 A.M. (Updated: March 22, 2014 5:29 P.M.)
JENIN (Ma'an) -- Three Palestinians were killed and seven others were injured early Saturday during clashes with Israeli troops who raided Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, Palestinian security sources said.

The sources told Ma'an a large number of Israeli troops surrounded several Palestinian militants in a house in the camp and showered the house with gunshots.

Militants returned fire and eventually three of them were shot dead, the sources said.

The three were identified as Hamza Abu al-Haija, 22, Mahmoud Abu Zeina, 17, and 22-year-old Yazan Mahmoud Basim Jabarin.

The sources said the Israeli soldiers first attacked the house with rifle-fired Energa shells after Abu al-Haija refused to surrender.

Locals and security sources said that Abu al-Haija was a prominent leader of Hamas' military wing al-Qassam Brigades, while Abu Zeina was affiliated to Islamic Jihad's al-Quds Brigades.

Jabarin, 23, was a member of al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the military wing of the Fatah movement, a Hamas statement said.

When Israeli troops withdrew from the camp, dozens of men rushed to the house. They said that seven men were found injured. They were identified as Mahmoud Kamil Abu Hashish, Rafat Said Ali Uweis, Muamin Abdullah Isam Nashrati, Hussein Abu Tabeikh and Qasam Mahmoud Jabarin.

Hamas' statement said that at the beginning of the raid, clashes broke between Israeli troops and Abu al-Haija, who was barricaded in the house of a friend identified as Hamza Ballas.

The other two militants were shot dead in clashes that broke out with Israeli troops after Abu al-Haija was killed, Hamas said.

The statement added that Palestinian Authority security services had summoned and detained Abu al-Haija several times before.

Israeli media reported that the operation was a joint initiate by the Israeli army, Shin Bet and police "anti-terror units" intended to arrest Abu al-Haija.

Haaretz said the Shin Bet believed he was involved in shootings against Israelis, placing bombs targeting army forces in the occupied West Bank and in Hamas attacks in Gaza.

The Israeli army confirmed the incident in a statement, but said a total of four Palestinians were killed during the incident.

The Israeli military said its forces had been attempting to arrest Abu al-Haija, who was wanted for "shooting and bombing attacks as well as planning future attacks."

Abu al-Haija "barricaded himself with other operatives in his house," a statement read, before opening fire and wounding two Israeli security personnel who "responded with fire, killing the terrorist."

The army said that after Abu al-Haija was killed, a "violent riot" ensued at the scene, during which three further Palestinians were killed.

A spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas denounced the killings, describing them as part of "systematic Israeli policy aimed at destroying everything."

Nabil Abu Rdeina said that Israel escalated its "attacks against citizens." He urged the US administration to take action before peace talks collapsed.

AFP contributed to this report.
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