Israeli forces kill Palestinian militant in West Bank clash

JENIN, West Bank, April 9 (Reuters) – Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian militant in the occupied West Bank on Saturday during a raid in the hometown of a gunman who had carried out a deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv, Israeli and Palestinian sources said.

Israeli-Palestinian tensions have soared in the run-up to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with both sides warning against escalation. Deadly incidents have since surged.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 13 people were wounded in Saturday’s exchange of fire in the city of Jenin. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed the man killed as a member of the militant group.

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The Israeli military said its soldiers were conducting a counter-terrorism operation in the area and had opened fire at Palestinian gunmen who shot at them.

Residents said the troops had surrounded the home of a man who on Thursday night opened fire in a Tel Aviv bar and killed three Israelis. He was shot dead a few hours later in a firefight with Israeli security forces.

Israel’s Defence Ministry announced a series of restrictions on the Jenin area on Saturday, prohibiting passage through its main crossing into Israel. Jenin is considered a stronghold of Palestinian militants.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday condemned the Tel Aviv attack.

But he also warned of the dangers of Israeli provocations at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, a perennial point of tension, days after a far-right Israeli lawmaker visited the compound, holy to both Muslims and Jews.

Friday’s Ramadan prayers ended peacefully despite the tension.

Thursday’s shooting brought the number of people killed in a string of Arab and Palestinian attacks in Israel over the past month to 14, the sharpest rise in such violence in years, which Israeli leaders have described as “a new wave of terrorism”.

More than 20 Palestinians, many of whom were militants, have been killed by Israeli forces since January and Palestinians in the West Bank have reported a rise in violence by Israeli settlers there.

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Additional reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Mike Harrison

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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