An AFP photographer said a white vehicle riddled with bullet holes was in the area, where Israeli forces have stepped up operations in recent months.

The photographer said he saw the bodies of the three men at the morgue in Jenin. They were identified as Yusef Salah, 23, Baraa Lahluh, 24, and Laith Abu Srur, 24, all from Jenin.

The Israeli army said in a statement that its troops had been conducting an operation in Jenin to search for weapons at two different locations.

The soldiers had come under fire as they arrived at the first location and they retaliated before identifying a suspicious vehicle on the side of the road on their way to the second location, it said.

“Shots were fired from the vehicle at the soldiers, who neutralised the terrorists who fired at them,” the army said, adding that they found weapons, including two M-16 assault rifles and cartridges at the scene.

West Bank hotspot

The Israeli army has ramped up raids in and around the occupied West Bank’s Jenin camp, a stronghold of Palestinian armed factions.

Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a prominent TV reporter with Al Jazeera, was shot dead last month in Jenin while she was covering an Israeli army operation.

The Palestinian Authority, Al Jazeera and Qatar, where the channel is based, accused the Israeli army of killing the journalist. Several journalistic probes have also pointed in the same direction.

A Palestinian investigation said the reporter—who was wearing a bullet-proof vest with “press” written on it and a helmet when she was shot—was killed in what it described as a war crime.

Israel has denied the allegations, arguing that she could have been killed by a Palestinian gunman, but later said it could not rule out the possibility that it was Israeli soldiers.

The Israeli army has not yet released its conclusion following an internal investigation.

The Israeli police had launched the internal investigation following an international outcry after Abu Akleh’s coffin was almost dropped when police attacked the pallbearers during her funeral.

On Thursday, the Israeli police closed the probe into violence at the funeral—without however releasing any findings.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States was seeking more information about the probe into the funeral.

“Certainly, to us, typically these investigations—the findings of them—are released publicly,” Price told reporters in Washington.

US President Joe Biden is expected in Israel and the West Bank next month.

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