NABLUS: Israel said its security forces shot dead three Palestinians blamed for killing a British-Israeli woman and two of her daughters last month, in a raid in the occupied West Bank on Thursday.
Two suspects in the killings and a third man accused of helping them were killed in a joint operation in Nablus by the army, police and Shin Bet security service, a statement said.
The three men were identified as the "murderers of Leah, Maia and Rina Dee" who died after the April 7 attack on their vehicle near Hamra in the Jordan Valley, the Shin Bet said, using the women's Hebrew names.
The army said troops recovered two M-16 rifles and an AK-47 from the apartment where the suspects were holed up.
Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said all three men were from its ranks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the successful conclusion of the weeks-long manhunt for the women's killers.
"We settled accounts with the murderers of Lucy, Maia and Rina Dee," he said in a statement.
"Our message to those who harm us, and those who want to harm us, is that whether it takes a day, a week or a month – you can be certain that we will settle accounts with you."
The Palestinian health ministry confirmed three people had been killed in the morning raid in the Old City of Nablus.
"Two of the martyrs have completely distorted features due to the intensity of the shooting, which makes it difficult to identify them," the ministry said.
An AFP correspondent heard gunfire erupt near the Old City around 7 am (0400 GMT) as dozens of Israeli army vehicles swooped in from multiple directions.
Widower Leo Dee said in a statement he was "comforted" to hear of the men's killing, and added that he had "asked for the opportunity to speak with the terrorists’ families."
Hamas described the killing of the three men as an "assassination" of the "heroes of resistance in the city of Nablus".
The raid came just days after violence flared along the Gaza border following the death of a Palestinian hunger striker in Israeli custody on Tuesday.
Palestinian militants fired more than 100 rockets from Gaza in response to the death of Khader Adnan, 45, a leading figure in Islamic Jihad in the occupied West Bank, who died in prison following an 87-day hunger strike.
The latest deadly raid brings to 105 the number of Palestinians killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so far this year.
Nineteen Israelis, one Ukrainian and one Italian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP count based on official sources from the two sides.
These figures include combatants as well as civilians, and, on the Israeli side, include three members of the Arab minority.