The Israeli military said it killed two Palestinian gunmen who fired on troops in the occupied West Bank early Wednesday, the latest in near-daily violence roiling the region.
The shooting came as tensions are at fever pitch following a series of Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip that killed three senior Islamic Jihad militants and 10 others — most of them women and children — on Tuesday. Palestinian militants have pledged to retaliate, and Israel says it is prepared for a further escalation of hostilities.
At noon Wednesday, the Israeli military said it conducted an airstrike targeting the militant Islamic Jihad group at a rocket launch site in southeast Gaza. Medics said the airstrike killed a man and seriously wounded another. It was not immediately clear whether the pair belonged to the group.
The Israeli military has instructed residents of southern Israel to remain near bomb shelters, and schools were closed for a second day as a precaution against attacks by Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip.
In the West Bank, the military said that Palestinian gunmen opened fire at troops in the Palestinian town of Qabatiya in the northern West Bank during an army raid. Troops returned fire, killing the two men, and confiscated their firearms, it said.
The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the slain men as Ahmed Assaf, 19, and Rani Qatanat, 24. Islamic Jihad later claimed the two men as its members.
Israel has been conducting near-daily raids for more than a year to detain suspected Palestinian militants, including many from Islamic Jihad. The northern West Bank city of Jenin and its environs have been the frequent target of such raids as it has emerged as a hub of Palestinian militant activity.
Israel says the raids in the West Bank are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks.
At least 107 Palestinians, around half of them militants, have been killed by Israeli fire in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since the start of 2023, according to an Associated Press tally. At least 20 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis.