At least 6 Palestinians killed, dozen wounded during Israeli West Bank raid

AFP , AP , Tuesday 7 Mar 2023

Palestinian health officials say at least six Palestinians were killed and two dozen others were wounded in an Israeli army raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank

Israeli security forces use tear gas to disperse Palestinians protesting against the demolition of h
Israeli security forces use tear gas to disperse Palestinians protesting against the demolition of houses by Israeli authorities, following the Friday prayer in the Arab neighbourhood of Silwan in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, on March 3, 2023. AFP


After Israeli troops entered the Jenin refugee camp, witnesses reported heavy gunfire between militants as forces surrounded a house.

Two witnesses said rockets had been fired at a building housing a group of militants, and reported gunfire in the streets elsewhere in the northern West Bank camp.

Thick plumes of smoke were seen rising from buildings, as Israeli armoured vehicles moved through the streets, according to an AFP photographer.

The Palestinian health ministry said in a statement that six men had been killed, one aged 49, and the rest in their 20s.

Sixteen others were wounded, the statement added, two of them with serious injuries.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, called the use of rockets in the city an act of "all-out war", Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

Rudeineh accused the Israeli government of being "responsible for this dangerous escalation which threatens to inflame the situation and destroy all efforts aimed at restoring stability".

The Jenin Brigade, a militant group in the camp, said on one of their Telegram channels that their gunmen fought "violent clashes" with Israeli forces.

Surge In Violence 

Early Wednesday, Palestinian militants launched a rocket toward Israel but it fell short and exploded inside the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said. The rocket activated warning sirens in open areas in southern Israel.

There were no reports of casualties.

Tuesday’s raid was the latest in a string of deadly arrest operations by the Israeli military in the northern West Bank, as violence surges to its highest levels in years since the beginning of the year after one of the most right-wing governments led Netanyahu took office.

The raid raised fears of further bloodshed as Israel struggles to contain growing unrest led by young Palestinians in the occupied West Bank who are increasingly taking up arms against Israel's open-ended occupation, now in its 56th year.

Elsewhere, in a separate raid on the occupied West Bank town of Nablus, the army entered a building in the Askar refugee camp and arrested three men, according to witnesses.

About 64 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire this year. Palestinian response against Israelis in east Jerusalem and the West Bank have killed 14 people during that same time.

Earlier on Tuesday, Israel’s far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir joined Jewish revelers in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, dancing with residents from the hard-line settler community.

It was the latest show of force by extremist settlers in the occupied West Bank, who have been bolstered by Ben-Gvir and other allies in the new Israeli government. Overnight, settlers injured a Palestinian man in the same Palestinian town where a settler mob burned cars and houses last week.

Hebron is an occupied city that is home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a site considered holy to Muslims, Christians and Jews. Hundreds of hard-line settlers live in fortified enclaves under military protection in the heart of a city of more than 200,000 Palestinians.

Tuesday's celebration came under heavy security and passed from a settlement to the Israeli-controlled downtown area where Palestinians have been evicted or forced to close shops over the years.

Before entering office, Ben-Gvir was arrested dozens of times and was once convicted of incitement and supporting a Jewish terrorist group.

Late Monday, Jewish settlers wounded a Palestinian man in the town of Hawara, which was torched in a settler rampage last week. Mobs of Israeli settlers had set buildings and cars on fire in revenge for the shooting in a rampage that also left one Palestinian dead.

Stirring fears of further mayhem, settlers returned to the main Hawara thoroughfare Monday in a van, blasting music. Several of them attacked a supermarket, said Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors Israeli settlements in the northern West Bank, injuring one man in the head.

Security camera footage from near the shop appeared to show Israeli settlers throwing rocks, and Palestinians hurling stones back.

Other footage appeared to show Israeli settlers dancing with soldiers on the main Hawara road, alongside a van emblazoned with the words “Happy Purim." The army said the soldiers’ conduct was “not aligned with the behavior expected” and that the incident was under review.

Israel captured the West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, in the 1967 war, territories the Palestinians seek for their future state. In the decades since, more than 500,000 Jewish settlers have moved into dozens of settlements, which the international community considers illegal and an obstacle to peace.

* This story has been edited by Ahram Online.

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