Israel lifts weeks-long lockdown as Palestinian killed in clash

JERUSALEM (AFP): The Israeli army on Thursday lifted a weeks-long lockdown on the West Bank city of Nablus, as troops shot dead a Palestinian in clashes elsewhere in the occupied territory, officials said.

“In accordance to a routine situational assessment in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), it has been decided that the general closure that was imposed on the entrances and exits to Nablus will be lifted,” a statement from the army said.

A military spokesperson said the lockdown had been lifted at 4:00 a.m. (0200 GMT).

The army had sealed the city on October 11 after Palestinian gunmen of the Lions’ Den group, a loose coalition of fighters not aligned with established Palestinian factions, killed an Israeli soldier near the settlement of Shavei Shomron.

The group was behind approximately 20 attacks on Israeli troops and civilians over the past month, according to the army.

The army intensified raids inside the city as Israel pursued Lions’ Den members, with an October 25 operation killing five people, including what Israel said was the group’s leader.

Reports said other members handed themselves over to Palestinian security forces in recent days.

The sweeping closure of Nablus had restricted travel in and out of the city for around 200,000 Palestinians, disrupting daily life, the local economy and access to medical care and education.

Also Thursday, a man the Palestinian health ministry identified as Daoud Rayyan, 42, was shot dead during a clash with Israeli forces in Beit Duqqu, northwest of Jerusalem.

A spokesman for Israeli border police said that “a terrorist, who was throwing firebombs at our forces, was spotted with a firebomb in his hand and shot dead.”

At least 30 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed in the territories since the start of October, according to an AFP tally.