IDF kills gunmen behind Israeli's shooting death; 3 more killed in Gaza
Troops kill three Fatah gunmen responsible for Thursday's fatal shooting of Meir Avshalom Hai in roadside ambush in West Bank. In another incident, three Palestinians killed in air strike near Gaza border while apparently trying to infiltrate Israel
Israeli soldiers shot and killed three Palestinians of President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement on Saturday in the West Bank city of Nablus, medical officials and sources with the group said.
The shootings came two days after Meir Avshalom Hai was killed in a roadside ambush in the West Bank, land Israel captured in a 1967 war that Palestinians seek for a state.
The army said the three gunmen had carried out the attack on Hai.
Central Command chief Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi said, "The IDF and the Shin Bet will act with resolve against all those looking to harm the State of Israel's citizens and security forces. We will not rest until we settle the score with those involved in last week's deadly attack."
The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Fatah was one of two Palestinian militant groups that claimed responsibility for what was the first fatal shooting of an Israeli in an attack by militants in the territory in eight months.
Medics said soldiers entered the casbah of Nablus as well as the Ras al-Ayin region at around 4 am on Saturday. Then soldiers surrounded the homes of the Palestinians before shooting and killing them.
The Al-Aqsa Brigades gunmen who were killed were identified as Raghsan Abu Sharah (40), Anan Sabah (36), and Raed a-Sarkaji (40), who was recently released from an Israeli prison after seven years. Sources said a-Sucharji's wife had been injured during the shootings.
'Grave Israeli escalation'
The three gunmen were well-known Tanzim figures. Sabah was included in the amnesty agreement with Israel, in which Fatah gunmen agreed to lay down their arms in exchange for Israel's promise not to hunt them down.
Sarkaji served seven years in an Israeli prison for the murder of an Israeli truck driver, although he never confessed to the crime. The Shin Bet security service said that prior to his arrest Sarkaji was wanted for taking part in a number of terror attacks.
IDF soldiers in Nablus Saturday morning (Photo: AFP)
Abu Sharah was jailed in Israel in 1990. His brother was the head of the Tanzim in Nablus and participated in numerous terror attacks until he was killed by the IDF in 2004.
A rifle and two pistols were found on Salah's body, and a large amount of weapons were found in the cache he was holed up in.
In another incident early Saturday, three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli air strike and ground fire near the Israel-Gaza security fence as they were trying to cross into Israel in the Erez Crossing area. Another Palestinian was injured in the incident, sources in the Hamas-ruled area said.
Palestinians reported that shortly after midnight gunfire was heard in the Beit Hanoun and Erez Crossing area and that an IDF chopper fired continuously for about an hour near the border fence.
According to some sources, the Palestinians who were killed were trying to infiltrate Israel to seek work, but according to another report, they were scavenging for scrap metal at the site of a building that was destroyed during Operation Cast Lead.
An aide to Palestinian President Abbas condemned Israel's killing of six Palestinians on Saturday, accusing the Jewish state of escalating the violence.
Nabil Abu Rdainah said, "This grave Israeli escalation shows Israel is not interested in peace and is trying to explode the situation."
"Israel is torpedoing international and American efforts to restart peace talks," which stalled a year ago, Rdainah said. Israel has insisted it was ready to resume negotiations immediately.
Hanan Greenberg, Reuters and AFP contributed to the report