December 20, 2014
Gun battle flares as Israeli soldiers seek missing teens in West Bank
Israeli forces traded gunfire with Palestinians today, the military said, in the fiercest street battles in the occupied West Bank since a search began for three Israeli teenagers missing for a week.
Hospital officials said three Palestinians suffered bullet wounds in the overnight clashes in Jenin, a militant stronghold and the scene of deadly fighting during a Palestinian uprising a decade ago. There were no reported Israeli casualties.
A military statement said about 300 Palestinians, including some who "hurled explosives and opened fire", confronted soldiers who entered Jenin looking for the three seminary students.
Israel says the Hamas Islamist group abducted them last Thursday as they were hitchhiking near a Jewish settlement.
"The soldiers responded with live fire, identifying hits," the statement said. It said 30 "terror suspects" were detained in the West Bank, bringing to 280 the number of Palestinians taken into custody over the past week.
Reuters photographers in Jenin heard heavy gunfire during the night but were kept away from the scene of the clashes by Israeli forces.
Israel has said its West Bank operation is twofold: to find Gil-Ad Shaer and US-Israeli national Naftali Fraenkel, both aged 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, and to deal a substantial blow to Hamas, a group dedicated to its destruction.