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Israel kills four Palestinian militants in West Bank raid

Source: Reuters - Sat, 22 Mar 2014 07:39 GMT
Author: Reuters
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Palestinians shout slogans as they carry the body of Palestinian Yazan Jabarin in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin March 22, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman
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* Israeli troops raid West Bank home to snatch Hamas man

* He and three other Palestinians killed in shootout

* Tensions cast shadow over U.S.-brokered peace talks

By Ali Sawafta

JENIN, West Bank, March 22 (Reuters) - Israeli forces shot and killed four Palestinians on Saturday during a raid on a home in the occupied West Bank to capture a wanted Hamas Islamist militant, the Israeli military said.

Hamas supporters carried three bodies through the streets of the West Bank city of Jenin, shouting slogans against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, involved in U.S.-brokered peace talks with Israel.

Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls the Gaza Strip, does not recognise the state of Israel and opposes the negotiations.

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.

The three other Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces as they confronted protesters throwing petrol bombs and rocks at them during the raid to capture Alhija, 24, a suspect in past attacks against Israelis, the military said.

The owner of the home where Alhija had tried to hide said the troops arrived at around 2 a.m.

"There was shooting in the house for about half an hour, and then the soldiers came and ordered us to leave so we did," said Azmi Husniya, 67.

Husniya said he had seen Alhija jump from a window while trying to flee. The house was badly damaged in the raid and two of his sons were wounded in the shooting.

The fighting was some of the worst seen in Jenin since a 2002 Israeli incursion in the area, highlighting rising tensions between the sides, three days after troops killed a Palestinian youth elsewhere in the West Bank.

Palestinian officials said before Saturday's incident that Israeli forces had killed 57 Palestinians and injured almost 900 since the resumption of peace talks last July.

The U.S.-brokered negotiations have shown little progress weeks ahead of an April deadline set by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, with the sides at odds over Israel's rejection of some of the Palestinians Abbas wants released as part of a commitment by Israel to release inmates by the end of March.

The talks are aimed at achieving Palestinian statehood alongside Israel in territory Israel captured in a 1967 war. (Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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