Palestinian gunmen shot dead on way to ‘massacre in Israel’

Israeli police have shot dead three Palestinians wielding axes, guns and ammunition who reportedly planned to carry out “a major attack or a massacre in Israel”.

Kobi Shabtai, the national police chief, said the group were killed at a checkpoint near Jerusalem on a road linking the city with the occupied West Bank.

At least two of the gunmen belonged to the Hamas terrorist group, said Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service. Hamas did not immediately comment.

The suspects had arrived in a vehicle from the direction of the town of Bethlehem and opened fire when Israeli forces began questioning them, Mr Shabtai said.

They were killed when Israeli forces shot back, he added. Six members of the security forces were wounded, with one critically injured in the attack.

Police said they found two automatic rifles, two handguns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, 10 fully loaded magazines and two axes on the suspects and in their vehicle.

Footage on social media, shot from inside a bus, showed a man in uniform running and falling as gunshots rang out.

There was no immediate comment from the Palestinian officials.

Tensions in the region have flared since the Hamas attack on Oct 7, in which some 1,200 people were killed and around 240 taken hostage, including children.

In response, Israel has launched an air, ground and sea offensive in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

More than 11,500 people, around 40 per cent of them children, have been killed by the offensive to date, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.

Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas in retaliation for last month’s attack.

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