Israeli troops kill three Palestinian militants in West Bank raid

Photo: Israeli troops kill three Palestinian militants in West Bank raid / Israel-Arab Relations

Israeli forces shot three Palestinian militants dead on Saturday in a raid on a home in the occupied West Bank to capture a wanted Hamas Islamist militant, Israeli military and Palestinian officials said, Reuters reported.

The Palestinian Authority denounced the violence that it said threatened U.S.-brokered peace talks ahead of a looming April deadline set by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, urged Washington to take steps "to prevent a collapse" of negotiations.

Palestinian militants fired guns into the air at the men's' funeral in the West Bank town of Jenin, scene of the clashes. Flags from their armed groups draped their coffins and thousands of mourners shouted calls for revenge and chanted against Abbas's involvement in talks with Israel.The Israeli military said its forces raided a home in a refugee camp in Jenin where they shot and killed a Hamas militant, Hamza Abu Alhija, after he opened fire. Two Israeli troops were wounded when he shot at them, they said.

Israeli forces killed two other Palestinians as they confronted protesters throwing petrol bombs and rocks at them during the raid to capture Alhija, 24, wanted as a suspect for plotting shootings against Israelis, the military said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, called Alhija "a ticking bomb" involved in previous attacks who was also plotting additional shootings under the direction of Hamas Islamists in control of the Gaza Strip.

Lerner scaled back an initial death toll from four as the military had reported earlier.

Hamas rejects Israel's existence and opposes Abbas's negotiations with the Jewish state.

Palestinian officials confirmed three militants had been killed, Alhija from Hamas and one each from Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is linked to Abbas' Fatah movement.

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