Two Palestinian men and one Israeli soldier have been killed during an exchange of fire in the northern occupied West Bank near the city of Jenin.
The Palestinian men were identified on Wednesday as Ahmad Ayman Abed, 23, and Abdul Rahman Hani Abed, 22.
The Israeli soldier has not been named.
The two men were from the village of Kufr Dan on the western outskirts of Jenin and had reportedly engaged in armed clashes with Israeli forces at the Jalama (Gilboa) military checkpoint north of the city in the early hours of Wednesday.
The Israeli army said it had been carrying out “a suspect arrest procedure, during which the suspects shot at the fighters”.
“[A major] was killed overnight during operational activity adjacent to the Gilboa Crossing during an exchange of fire,” the army added.
The Fatah movement identified the two Palestinian men as being members of its armed wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. One of the men worked as a Palestinian Authority (PA) intelligence officer.
Israeli forces have stepped up operations ahead of the UEFA Champions League football game between French club Paris Saint Germain and Maccabi Haifa, which will take place less than 70 kilometres (45 miles) away from Jenin.
Israeli forces have been conducting nightly raids and killings in the northern occupied West Bank, mainly in Jenin and Nablus, where Palestinian armed resistance is becoming more organised and new groups of fighters have been formed.
The Jenin Brigades, a group that has been active over the past year in the city, said in a statement the two men were fighters who were killed after engaging in “intense armed clashes with occupation forces”.
As part of a campaign Israel calls “Break the Wave”, which was launched in March following a string of attacks by Palestinians that killed 19 people in Israel, the army has been carrying out nightly incursions, targeted assassinations and mass arrests in the occupied West Bank.
Including Wednesday’s deaths, the Palestinian health ministry said the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the occupied territories since the start of the year now stands at 148, including 97 in the West Bank and 51 in the besieged Gaza Strip.
More than 30 of those killed were either from Jenin or were killed in the Jenin region.
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