Bank

Funeral of three suspected Palestinian militants killed in the West Bank by Israeli forces draws large crowds

Jerusalem (CNN)Large crowds gathered in the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday for the funeral of three men shot dead by Israeli forces.

The three men belonged to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah organization, according to the militant group, which named them Mohammad Al Dakhil, Adham Mabrook and Ashraf Mubaslat.

Israel said the men were responsible for at least five shootings against Israeli army positions in the West Bank in recent months and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the operation showed that there was ” no immunity for terrorists”.

But the Palestinian Authority’s foreign ministry described the men’s deaths as an assassination.

Video of the immediate aftermath of the fatal incident shows a silver car, with its doors open and what appear to be multiple bullet holes in the front windshield, surrounded by two pickup trucks.

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About a dozen Israeli security personnel can be seen moving around the vehicles, others taking up defensive positions nearby. The operation had been planned for several weeks, according to an Israel Police commander, who said the suspects opened fire on Israeli forces, who then returned fire. Two M16 assault rifles were found in the suspects’ car, Israeli police said.

In a tweet, along with a photo of the bullet-riddled vehicle, the PLO said soldiers jumped out of a Palestinian public taxi and shot and killed three Palestinians.

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“This is what the aftermath of an extrajudicial killing by the Israeli occupation forces looks like,” it read.

Hours later, thousands of people gathered in central Nablus as the bodies of the three men, wrapped in Palestinian flags, were born in the air before being buried. Many mourners fired shots into the air in tribute.

A tweet from senior Fatah leader Mahmoud Al-Aloul captured a widespread sentiment: “May the souls of the martyrs of the Mountain of Fire [which overlooks Nablus] Rest in peace, those who sacrificed their blood for the land, on the path to freedom and independence.

Three days of mourning have been declared and the Palestinian news agency WAFA reports that a general strike is underway across the West Bank with shops and schools closed.

Israel’s prime minister hailed the operation that led to the men’s deaths saying it showed there was “no immunity for terrorists”.

Palestinian Authority officials said the deaths should be considered by the International Criminal Court as part of its investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes in the West Bank.

This story has been updated with new developments.