TULKARM, West Bank (Reuters) – Israeli troops killed an Islamic Jihad militant in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, residents said, in an incident that could complicate Egyptian-mediated efforts to broker a Gaza ceasefire.
Islamic Jihad, along with the militant Hamas group that controls the Gaza Strip, has been taking part in talks with Egypt on reaching a truce with Israel, a target of rockets the two movements have fired frequently from the territory.
After the shooting of Saleh Karkoor, 22, near the West Bank city of Tulkarm, an Islamic Jihad official said the group would retaliate “deep inside the Zionist entity”.
Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said Israel’s raids in the West Bank showed “it was not interested in calm”. Hamas, he said, would hold Israel responsible for the consequences.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said soldiers shot a gunman after he opened fire at them during a raid to arrest militants, and that weapons and explosives were found on his body.
Karkoor lay motionless on a makeshift stretcher as dozens of residents carried him away from the rubble of a house demolished by Israeli forces during the assault.
Israeli troops frequently raid West Bank towns in search of militants suspected of planning attacks against Israelis.
Palestinian officials in the West Bank, where President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction holds sway, say the operations damage his chances of restoring law and order in the territory and reaching peace with Israel in U.S.-brokered negotiations.
The peace process also has been threatened by violence along the Israel-Gaza frontier.
The number of cross-border rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip has decreased sharply since Israel ended an offensive in the territory nine days ago after killing 120 Palestinians, about half of whom have been identified as civilians, and Egypt stepped up truce efforts.