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Hamas commander killed in West Bank clash with Israeli forces

Hamas has said that one of its commanders in the occupied West Bank has been killed in a clash with Israeli forces.

In a statement released late on Monday, Hamas said Mohammed Jaber Abdo was killed along with three other fighters in a village near Ramallah, where the Western-backed Palestinian Authority is headquartered.

A joint statement by the Israeli army and police said earlier on Monday that undercover forces had tracked down a suspect wanted in an attack on a nearby Jewish settlement.

Smoke rises in the Palestinians Al Fara’a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank following an Israeli military raid
Smoke rises in the Palestinians Al Fara’a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank following an Israeli military raid (Majdi Mohammed/AP)

Israeli media, citing unnamed security officials, reported that the soldiers were killed on Monday when explosives they were using to clear a building were triggered prematurely, causing it to collapse, killing four soldiers and wounding 11.

The Hamas militant group said it had booby-trapped the building and attacked the soldiers with mortar rounds after the explosion.

The military targeted the building because they believed there was a Hamas operative inside who was involved in the 2006 kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held in Gaza for five years, according to Israeli media.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the UN Security Council’s vote in favour of a Gaza cease-fire plan made it “as clear as it possibly could be” that the world supports the US-backed proposal to end the fighting.

He spoke to reporters in Tel Aviv on Tuesday after meeting with Israeli officials.

Palestinians mourn over the bodies of relatives killed in an Israeli airstrike, at a morgue in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al Balah
Palestinians mourn over the bodies of relatives killed in an Israeli airstrike, at a morgue in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al Balah (Jehad Alshrafi/AP)

“Everyone’s vote is in, except for one vote, and that’s Hamas,” Mr Blinken said.

The proposal, announced by President Joe Biden last month, calls for a three-phase plan in which Hamas would release the rest of the hostages in exchange for a lasting ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

The group is still holding around 120 hostages, a third of whom are believed to be dead.

Biden presented it as an Israeli proposal and urged Hamas to accept it.

But Mr Netanyahu has publicly disputed key aspects of it, saying Israel won’t end the war without destroying Hamas and returning all the hostages.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the media as after meeting with families and supporters of Israelis held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, during his visit to Tel Aviv
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the media as after meeting with families and supporters of Israelis held hostage by Hamas in Gaza, during his visit to Tel Aviv (Jack Guez/AP)

He said Israel is “stalling and procrastinating and creating obstacles in order to continue the aggression”.

On Monday, the UN Security Council voted overwhelmingly to approve the proposal, with 14 of the 15 members voting in favour and Russia abstaining.

Israel launched what it says is a limited ground operation in parts of Rafah in early May.

Some one million Palestinians, most of them already displaced from other parts of Gaza, have fled the offensive in Rafah.

The UN estimates as few as 200,000 to 300,000 people still remain in the city.

The military says at least 298 soldiers have been killed since the start of the Gaza ground operation after Hamas’ October 7 attack in southern Israel which triggered the war.

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