Israel: Palestinian militant killed in shootout

Israel: Palestinian militant killed in shootout

By The Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 6, 2017 at 8:53 a.m.

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JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian militant was killed Monday in a shootout with Israeli forces in the West Bank, Israeli police said.

Basil al-Araj, 31, headed a group planning attacks against Israeli targets and collected weapons for the group, police said. He was detained by Palestinian forces last year for about a month.

Police said in a statement that Israeli forces entered the Ramallah area in the West Bank to arrest al-Araj, and he opened fire, leading to a shootout that killed him. The police published photos of two firearms it said were found on the scene.

Palestinians protested and threw stones at the Israeli forces, and police say their forces shot and wounded two Palestinians.

Also on Monday, the Islamist group Hamas said Israel arrested two of its lawmakers in the West Bank.

Palestinians have killed 41 Israelis and two visiting Americans in a wave of attacks, mainly stabbings, since September 2015. Israeli forces have killed 237 Palestinians during the same period, most of whom were identified as attackers by Israeli authorities.

Israel says the violence is fueled by a Palestinian campaign of incitement. The Palestinians say it stems from anger over decades of Israeli rule in territory they claim for a state.

Al-Araj didn't fit the typical profile of a Palestinian attacker, said his uncle Khalid al-Araj.

He said his nephew was an intellectual who devoted much of his time to reading and researching, particularly about the history and geography of Palestine. He said he never belonged to any particular faction but believed that intellectuals should express their thoughts in action and not only words.

The Palestinian Authority arrested Al-Araj in March 2016 on charges of planning to carry out a military attack against Israelis, and was released in September after a 9-day hunger strike. Since then he became a fugitive and Israeli forces raided his house several times.

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