Israeli troops kill Hamas militants in West Bank: military

Israeli troops killed at least four Hamas militants in gun battles on Sunday,

in raids against one of the group's cells in the occupied West Bank.

That's according to an Israeli military spokesman, who said an Israeli officer and a soldier were also critically wounded, and four more Palestinians arrested.

Israeli officials have long said Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, intends to gain strength in the West Bank.

So it can challenge its rival there, the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.

This Palestinian resident of the village of Beit Anan heard the raid before dawn, and says he saw soldiers carrying two bodies.

The shootouts marked the most serious violence between Israel and Hamas since an 11-day Gaza war in May and threatened to raise tensions in the West Bank and along the Israeli border with Gaza.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel in a statement of "field executions against our people."

A Hamas spokesman confirmed the men were members of the group, which Israel and the West regard as a terrorist organization.

Hamas called on Palestinians in the West Bank "to escalate resistance against the occupier in all areas" in the wake of the raids.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, en route to the U.N. in New York, said the Hamas men were "about to carry out terrorist attacks".

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting