NABLUS, West Bank, (Reuters) – Israeli troops killed a Palestinian militant from President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement on Friday on the second day of a large-scale military raid targetting armed loyalists of the Western-backed leader.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of Fatah has accused Israel of trying to undermine Abbas’s Western-backed emergency cabinet by conducting the raid despite the Palestinian leader’s vows to take his own steps to disarm gunmen.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers had shot the Palestinian as he fled from the troops in a refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus.
Officials of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Fatah said the militant, who was 28, had belonged to their group, and that Israeli soldiers had shot him as he fled arrest. Medics also confirmed he had been killed.
Israel launched the raid in the Nablus area on Thursday, sending in 50 armoured vehicles, clamping a curfew on the city centre and conducting house-to-house searches for Palestinians suspected of involvement in violence against Israel.
In response to Friday’s killing, a spokesman for the militants, Alaa Sanakeh, said the group would not honour Abbas’s decree of earlier this week to hand over their weapons, saying they needed to continue to respond to Israeli incursions.
Abbas had said he would no longer permit Palestinians to bear illegal weapons, though it was not clear how he intended to implement the decision. The Israeli raid signalled the Jewish state would continue to pursue Fatah militants despite its pledges to bolster Abbas as he tries to stabilise his hold in the West Bank after Hamas Islamists seized control of the Gaza Strip two weeks ago.
In fighting on Thursday, Israel fired rubber coated steel bullets that injured seven Palestinians, and five Israeli soldiers were also wounded in the violence, Israeli and Palestinian security sources said.
Israel has also renewed raids against Hamas strongholds in Gaza, killing 12 Palestinians, most of whom were gunmen, but also including a 12-year-old boy, in fighting in the coastal area on Wednesday.