Palestinian shot dead near Jenin; IDF: Terror suspect targeted trying to escape

A Palestinian man, Rafiq Riyad Ghannem, 20, was shot and killed by Israel Defense Forces fire close to the northern West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday morning, the Palestinian Authority health ministry said.

The IDF said in a statement that troops were carrying out an operation in the town of Jaba’ to detain an individual suspected of involvement in terror activities, and that he was shot as he tried to escape.

“During the operation, the force initiated arrest procedures, which included shooting, for a suspect who escaped from a building,” the military said.

The IDF said troops provided medical treatment to the suspect, but he was later declared dead.

Despite the military’s assertion that the “circumstances of the case are clear,” no further information was provided as to whether the suspect was armed or posed a threat.

Army Radio said that Ghannem’s body was being held by Israeli authorities.

Ghannem’s death came three days after 17-year-old Palestinian Kamel Abdullah Alawneh, shot by Israeli soldiers during clashes also in Jaba’ over the weekend, died of his wounds.

According to both military and Palestinian media accounts, Alawneh was shot while clashing with Israeli troops who set up a checkpoint at the entrance to the village. The IDF said a Palestinian hurled a Molotov cocktail at the soldiers, who fired at the suspect in response.

The Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group claimed Alawneh as a member, though pictures from the funeral Sunday showed his body wrapped in a yellow flag of the Fatah movement, led by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Fifty Palestinians have been killed since late March across Israel and the Palestinian territories, including attackers or individuals clashing with troops, suspected terrorists and innocent bystanders.

Over the same period 19 people — the majority of them Israeli civilians inside Israel — have been killed in terror attacks, mainly by Palestinians. Three Arab Israeli attackers have also been killed.

Wednesday’s Jaba’ clash took place as 24 wanted Palestinians suspected of terror activities were arrested by Israeli security forces during raids across the West Bank overnight, the IDF said. Weapons were also seized and clashes broke out in a number of locations.

The military said 14 people were detained in Silwad, near Ramallah. Video circulating on social media purported to show a number of men wearing blindfolds being escorted by Israeli troops through a street in the village.

The reported shooting and arrests came as the IDF kicked off a military exercise in the area surrounding Hebron. The military said that the exercise, set to end Wednesday afternoon, was pre-planned as part of its training program.

On Tuesday, the IDF said troops were targeted in a drive-by shooting near a checkpoint by the entrance of an illegal outpost in the northern West Bank.

According to the military, troops returned fire but the vehicle fled the scene. No Israeli injuries were reported. The military launched a manhunt for the gunmen.

Last week, three Israelis, including a senior IDF officer, were lightly hurt after Palestinian gunmen opened fire at Joseph’s Tomb on the outskirts of Nablus, while Jewish worshipers were visiting the site.

AFP and Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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