Israeli army kills two people in West Bank

Israeli forces have killed two Palestinians, including a man claimed by an armed group as a member, during a confrontation that erupted when troops entered a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian health officials say.

The two men were killed in the village of Kafr Dan near the northern city of Jenin early on Monday. The Israeli military said it entered Kafr Dan late on Sunday to demolish the houses of two Palestinian gunmen who killed an Israeli soldier during a firefight in September.

The Palestinian Health Ministry identified those killed as Samer Houshiyeh, 21, and Fouad Abed, 25. Houshiyeh was shot several times in the chest, according to Samer Attiyeh, the director of the Ibn Sina Hosipital in Jenin. Attiyeh initially said Abed was 17, but the ministry later gave his age as 25.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades armed group later claimed Houshiyeh as a member.

The group, an offshoot of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, published an older photo in which Houshiyeh had posed with rifles. Video on social media showed his body wrapped with the armed group's flag as his mother and other mourners bid farewell.

It was not immediately clear whether the second Palestinian killed was also affiliated with a militant group.

Israel says it demolishes the homes of militants as a way to deter potential attackers. Critics say the tactic amounts to collective punishment.

The year 2022 was the deadliest in the West Bank and east Jerusalem since 2006. The Israeli military has been conducting near-daily raids into Palestinian cities and towns since a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israelis killed 19 last spring.

More than 150 Palestinians were killed last year. A fresh wave of attacks killed at least another nine Israelis in the fall. The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.

Israel says the raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. The Palestinians see them as further entrenchment of Israel's 55-year, open-ended occupation of the West Bank.

Israel captured the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war and the Palestinians seek those territories for a future state.