A Molotov cocktail thrown by a Palestinian protester explodes on an Israeli armoured vehicle during clashes with Israeli security forces following a military raid in the West Bank city of Nablus, on July 7, 2023. Image Credit: AP

NABLUS, West Bank: Israeli forces killed two wanted Palestinians in a flashpoint city in the West Bank on Friday, days after Israel concluded a major two-day offensive meant to crack down on militants.

The persistent violence raised questions about the effectiveness of the raid earlier this week, which saw Israel launch rare airstrikes on militant targets, deploy hundreds of troops and cause widespread damage to roads, homes and businesses. As a result of the raid, 12 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed.

The raid bore the hallmarks of the second Palestinian uprising, a period of violence in the early 2000s that killed thousands.

The Israeli domestic security agency Shin Bet said Friday the two men, who it said were behind a shooting attack this week on a police vehicle, were killed in a gun battle with Israeli forces in the heart of the city of Nablus, the West Bank’s commercial capital.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said two men were killed by Israeli fire, identifying them as Khayri Mohammad Sari Shaheen, 34, and Hamza Moayed Mohammad Maqbool, 32.

In the aftermath of the shootout, bullet casings littered the blood-stained ground. Palestinians carried the bodies of the men killed into the hospital, chanting “God is great!” as guns fired into the air.

Friday’s deaths are part of a year-long spiral violence that shows no signs of abating, despite the fierce Israeli operation this week in the Jenin refugee camp. They follow a shooting on Thursday by a Hamas militant near an Israeli West Bank settlement that killed an Israeli soldier.

Israel has been staging raids in the West Bank for 16 months, in response to a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis last spring. The northern West Bank, which includes Nablus and Jenin and where the Palestinian Authority has less of a foothold, has been a major friction point during that period.

Over 150 Palestinians have been killed this year in the West Bank, and Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis have killed at least 27 people, including a shooting last month that killed four settlers.

Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.