Israeli forces kill two Palestinian gunmen in clash with W.Bank

NABLUS, West Bank (Reuters) – Israeli forces killed two Palestinian militants in a pre-dawn shootout in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, Palestinian and Israeli officials said.

The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed the deaths of two men and said six others were injured in the clash at a house in the Palestinian city of Nablus. Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades militant group claimed responsibility for the two deaths among its members.

Israeli security forces in an apparent arrest operation outside the home of a wanted suspect came under fire from gunmen and “responded with live fire and other means until neutralize the terrorists inside the house and on its roof,” police said.

A neighbour, Naser Estitya, 60, said he heard gunshots inside the house before Israeli forces fired heavily on the house. “They were calling a person’s name, asking them to surrender,” he said.

Photos from the scene showed that part of the top floor wall had been destroyed.

“Another crime committed by the occupying forces in the old city of #Nablus, where martyrs have fallen and many injured,” Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian official, said on Twitter. “We strongly condemn this crime, and we hold the occupation accountable for its repercussions.”

US-brokered peace talks aimed at establishing a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza collapsed in 2014 and showed no sign of recovery.

Israeli forces have stepped up raids in the West Bank in recent months after local men carried out deadly attacks on the streets of Israel. The Western-backed Palestinian Authority regularly condemns such incursions.

(Reporting by Ali Sawafta; Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem; Editing by William Mallard)