Facebook Twitter

Islamic rebel stronghold erupts into gunfire from Israeli troops

SHARE Islamic rebel stronghold erupts into gunfire from Israeli troops

NABLUS, West Bank — Hundreds of Israeli soldiers sealed off a West Bank village, known as an Islamic militant stronghold late Saturday, and witnesses said they heard repeated bursts of gunfire. At least one resident was reportedly hurt in the shooting.

Two helicopters flew above the village, Assira Ashamalieh, and trained bright spotlights on the homes and surrounding fields.

One resident, Nidal Daglas, speaking by telephone, said he was standing on the roof of his home when he heard intense gunfire.

"I didn't know what was going on. I went downstairs, and when I was near the entrance of my home, I was hit in the leg by a bullet," he said.

Daglas said soldiers initially refused to let an ambulance into the village, but that he eventually received medical treatment.

The village is known as a stronghold of the Islamic militant group Hamas.

The top Hamas fugitive in the West Bank, Mahmoud Abu Hanud, has relatives there.

Abu Hanud is believed to have been the mastermind behind two 1997 suicide bombings in Jerusalem in which 45 people, including five Hamas assailants, were killed.

Abu Hanud's sister-in-law, speaking by telephone, said hundreds of soldiers were searching the village late Saturday but had not come to her home.

She said she heard intense gunfire for about 10 minutes and that troops prevented residents from leaving their homes.

Other witnesses said that despite the army curfew, hundreds of villagers poured into the streets, burned tires and chanted, "With our spirit and our blood, we will redeem you, Abu Hanud."

Assira Asshamalieh is under joint Israeli-Palestinian control, while Nablus is under full Palestinian jurisdiction, meaning those seeking refuge there are out of the reach of the Israeli security forces.