The Israeli army killed two Palestinians in clashes overnight in the West Bank city of Jenin after soldiers shot dead a Hamas gunman wanted for shooting and bombing attacks.
The Hamas militant was a “ticking bomb” receiving instructions from leaders of the movement in the Gaza Strip and the other two killed were armed and fighting soldiers when they died, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said. The army said earlier today four died.
The deaths “aim to destroy” U.S. efforts to get the sides to reach a framework agreement and Washington should intervene, Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement posted on the Wafa news agency website.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a guideline for talks that would lead to a peace agreement establishing a Palestinian state. Israeli-Palestinian violence has continued as the April deadline nears for the accord.
Palestinian militants in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have fired more than 70 rockets at southern Israel this month and Israel has carried out air attacks on Gaza. On March 3, an Israeli air strike hit a Palestinian rocket squad in Gaza, killing one. On March 11, a strike killed three as they fired mortars at Israeli forces.
“The blood of the three people killed today shows that the so-called negotiations are meaningless and useless,” Tareq Qi’dan, a West Bank leader of the Islamic Jihad said in an e-mailed statement. “What happened in the West Bank today and in Gaza two weeks ago shows that the only choice that remains for Palestinians is to carry on with resistance.”
Hamas issued an e-mailed statement urging Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank, to sever all security cooperation with Israel after the clashes.