Nablus: Israeli security forces have killed three Palestinians in the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Ministry of Healthinfo-icon said on Tuesday, drawing condemnation from Palestinian Authority (PA).

"Three citizens were martyred as a result of direct shooting by Israeli forces in the city of Nablus," the ministry said in a statement. It identified the victims as Ashraf Mubaslat, Adham Mabrouka, and Mohammad Dakhil, according to the Palestinian Wafa news agency.

Wafa, quoting witnesses, reported Israeli soldiers opened fire at the car in the northern city. The car was riddled with bullet holes, according to the footage shared by the agency.

Witnesses told Anadolu Agencyinfo-icon that the incident involved a member of Israelinfo-icon's special forces in a civilian vehicle storming the city's al-Makhfieh neighbourhood, and opening fire at a Palestinian car.

The PA's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called for an international investigation into the killings while the PA cabinet described it as a "heinous crime".

The foreign ministry held the Israeli government and Prime Minister Neftali Bennett "fully and directly responsible for this crime".

"The silence of the international community to Israeli violations and crimes provides a cover to these criminal acts and encourages the Israeli occupier to continue in its open warfare against the Palestinians," it said in a statement.

Israel, on its part, said the three men were Palestinian "militants" who were responsible for recent shooting attacks.

The Shin Bet internal security agency said the three were in a vehicle and were killed in a clash with security forces. No Israelis were killed or wounded in the shooting, it added.

Palestinian and international rights groups have long condemned what they see as a policy of shoot to kill and excessive use of force.

B'Tselem, the Israeli rights body, said it had recorded 77 Palestinian deaths at the hands of Israeli security forces in the West Bank last year. More than half of those killed were not implicated in any attacks, it added.

Settler Attacks

Late last year, Israeli troops killed a Palestinian man during a raid in the Ras al-Ain area in Nablus, West Bank.

In December 2021, Israeli troops had killed a Palestinian man in the village of Beita, West Bank, during a protest against illegal settlements. Israeli forces killed a Palestinian minor after an alleged car-ramming at a military checkpoint in the northern West Bank.

Palestinians have also been bracing for rising violent attacks by Israeli settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusaleminfo-icon.

During the same period, an ultraorthodox Jew was injured after being stabbed allegedly by a Palestinian attacker outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City.

A week earlier, a Hamas member allegedly opened fire in the Old City, killing an Israeli man. Both suspects were killed by Israeli forces.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Amnesty Internationalinfo-icon said in a new report that Israel was carrying out "the crime of apartheid against Palestinians" and must be held accountable for treating them as "an inferior racial group".

Israel captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Middle Eastinfo-icon warinfo-icon. The territories are now home to more than 700,000 Jewish settlers living in 164 settlements and 116 outposts, which Palestinians seek as parts of their future independent state.

Under international law, all Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are considered illegal.

Palestinians, along with most of the international community, consider settlements to be a major obstacle to peace.