Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians who were killed during a raid by undercover Israeli forces in Jenin
Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians who were killed during a raid by undercover Israeli forces in Jenin in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, March 16, 2023. Reuters

Israeli forces killed four Palestinians, including at least two gunmen and a teenager, during a raid in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, Palestinian medics and militants said.

The Israeli police said its special forces had shot two militants in Jenin as well as a Palestinian who had attacked them with a rod, and had exchanged fire with several gunmen.

Jenin is among areas of the West Bank that have seen intensified Israeli raids over the past year as tensions over the Palestinians' long-stalled statehood hopes have surged.

The Jenin Brigade, a local militant group, said its gunmen clashed with an armed Israeli unit disguised as Palestinians.

The Israelis had "carried out a cowardly assassination of resistance fighters," a Jenin Brigade statement said. It named one of the dead as leading figure in the group. The Islamist group Hamas claimed a second dead gunman as its member.

Videos on social media appeared to show armed men in civilian clothes running along a shop-lined road on which two male figures can be seen lying next to toppled motorcycles.

One of the videos appeared to show a man shooting one of the prone figures in the head. Other footage showed scores of youths, some throwing furniture or rocks, converging on a car before scattering as shots ring out.

Reuters could not immediately verify the videos.

The police statement accused one of the shot militants of planning a "significant terrorist action" and the other of being involved in attacks on Israeli forces and manufacturing bombs.

The West Bank, among territories where Palestinians seek statehood, has seen a surge of confrontations in recent months, with near-daily military raids and escalating settler violence amid a spate of attacks by Palestinians.

Israel's hard-right government is set on expanding West Bank settlements and includes members who rule out a Palestinian state. The Gaza Strip, another Palestinian territory, is ruled by Hamas, which rejects coexistence with Israel.

Over the past year, Israeli forces have made thousands of arrests in the West Bank and killed more than 200 Palestinians, including fighters and civilians. More than 40 Israelis and three Ukrainians have died in Palestinian attacks in the same period.

The Palestinian health ministry said the dead on Thursday included a 16-year-old male, and that around 20 other people had been wounded by Israeli fire, four of them critically.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Andrew Heavens)