baita west bank israel
Israeli security forces block a road in Baita village on August 20, 2023, during the search for the suspected perpetrator of an attack a day earlier which killed two Israelis in Huwara village in the occupied West Bank. Image Credit: AFP

Jerusalem: An Israeli civilian was injured in the occupied West Bank Sunday when troops fired at a group of “masked suspects” who turned out to be Israeli citizens, the army said.

The incident happened at the Israeli settlement of Maale Levona, not far from the Palestinian city of Nablus where troops are searching for the suspect in the killing of two Israelis who were shot dead nearby on Saturday.

The army said a number of “masked suspects” were seen in the area of Maale Levona at around 03:00 am on Sunday.

“The soldiers opened fire according to standard operating procedures, during which one of the suspects was injured,” the army said.

“It was later revealed that the suspects are Israeli citizens who were masked.”

The army did not provide further details and said the incident was under investigation.

The shooting occurred a day after two Israelis, a father and son, were shot dead at a car wash in the town of Huwara, just south of Nablus.

Israeli forces have launched a manhunt to track down the killer, and on Sunday were continuing their search in the area.

Troops have been searching several villages including Aqraba and Beita near Nablus, witnesses told AFP.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the war of 1967.

Excluding annexed east Jerusalem, the territory is home to nearly three million Palestinians and around 490,000 Israelis who live in settlements considered illegal under international law.

Huwara, a Palestinian town, has seen a number of attacks on Jewish settlers or the Israeli military since early last year.

Settlers have also responded with revenge attacks on the town and surrounding villages.

It comes amid a surge in violence in the West Bank, which has seen a string of attacks by Palestinians on Israeli targets, as well as repeated Israeli army raids and violence by Jewish settlers against Palestinian communities.

At least 218 Palestinians have already been killed in violence linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this year.

Some 30 Israelis, one Ukrainian and one Italian have also been killed, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources on both sides.

They include, on the Palestinian side, combatants as well as civilians and, on the Israeli side, three members of the Arab minority.