Israeli forces kill three Palestinian gunmen who killed soldier By Reuters

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© Reuters. Israeli troops take position as they raid the house of a Palestinian who is believed to be an assailant, in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank November 16, 2023. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma


By Ammar Awad

NEAR BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters) -Three Palestinian assailants opened fire at a checkpoint on a road between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Thursday, killing an Israeli soldier and wounding others before the attackers were shot dead, Israeli police said.

Islamist militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

Police chief Yaakov Shabtai said the gunmen had planned a much bigger assault.

They arrived in a vehicle from the direction of Bethlehem, Shabtai told reporters at the scene, and opened fire when Israeli forces there began questioning them. They were killed when the Israeli forces shot back, he said.

After the gunfight, police said they found two automatic rifles, two handguns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, 10 fully loaded magazines and two axes on the suspects and in their vehicle.

There was no immediate comment from Palestinian officials.

Footage on social media, shot from inside a bus, showed a man in uniform running and falling as gun shots rang out at the checkpoint in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Israel’s military said a soldier with the military police was killed.

Tensions in the region have flared since a deadly attack by Hamas militants who burst through the border from Gaza into Israel on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking around 240 hostages, including children, according to Israeli tallies.

In response, Israel launched an air, ground and sea offensive in Gaza, killing more than 11,500 people, around 40% of them children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in the Hamas-run enclave.

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said Thursday’s attack showed that Israel should take a tougher stance in the West Bank and deal with the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the occupied territory, as it does with Hamas in Gaza.

“Containment will blow up in our faces like with Gaza. This is the time to act,” he wrote on social media platform X.

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