Israeli forces killed three members of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad during a raid in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, raising fears of a further escalation of violence during Ramadan.
Israel's police said the three militants opened fire when troops tried to arrest them near the northern city of Jenin. They were killed during a shoot-out, in which four soldiers were wounded, one seriously.
The Israeli forces intercepted “a terrorist cell on its way to an attack and stopped the car in which they were travelling between Jenin and Tulkarem”, police said.
Islamic Jihad confirmed the deaths of its fighters. It said two of them were from Jenin and one from Tulkarem.
Tension has soared in after Palestinian assailants killed 11 Israelis in three attacks across the country since last week. Two of the attacks were claimed by ISIS.
In response, Israel sent more forces to the West Bank in recent days for searches, patrols and arrest raids.
Saturday's deaths raised to seven the number of Palestinians killed over three days, including two in a gun battle on Thursday and one after he stabbed and wounded an Israeli on a bus in the West Bank.
On Friday, a Palestinian man was killed by troops in the West Bank city of Hebron during clashes that erupted after mosque prayers. The Israeli military said its forces shot a Palestinian who threw a firebomb at them.
Ramadan has often been a period of increased friction and confrontation between Israel and Palestinians, who are seeking a separate state comprising the West Bank and the coastal enclave of Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian leaders have held a flurry of talks in recent weeks, and Israel has made goodwill gestures to calm tension for Ramadan.
Last year, protests and clashes in Jerusalem during the holy month triggered an 11-day war in Gaza and Jewish-Arab violence in Israel's mixed cities.