Palestinians check the damage on a house in Jenin the occupied West Bank on August 17, 2023, following an Israeli military raid. AFP
Violence has gripped the region since last spring when Israel launched near-nightly raids in response to a spate of deadly Palestinian attacks. It's become the fiercest fighting in the West Bank in some two decades, and along with increased violence by radical Jewish settlers and settlement expansion by Israel's far-right government, has fueled tensions in the region.
Israeli troops surrounded a building containing a bakery and a home in Jenin, opened fire and blew up the home, witnesses told Palestinian media on Thursday.
The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the man killed as Mustafa al-Kastouni, 32. Video on social media showed piles of debris scattered beneath a sign reading “Al-Nour Modern Bakery” as men rushed al-Kastouni's body away from the scene. The Hamas group said its fighters engaged in a gun battle with Israeli troops in Jenin and lobbed explosives at the forces.
The Israeli army said in a statement that special forces were arresting two militant suspects when they came under fire, shot back and entered the building.
It claimed that al-Kastouni was linked to militant activity against Israeli forces and was killed after he shot at troops.
Jenin and an adjacent refugee camp have been the focus of Israel's monthslong operation, with an intense 2-day offensive last month at the height of those efforts. Israel deployed armed drones and hundreds of troops, leaving vast destruction and killing 12 Palestinians.
Israel says the raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. The Palestinians see the violence as a natural response to 56 years of occupation, including stepped-up settlement construction by Israel’s government and increased violence by Jewish settlers.
The ongoing violence in the West Bank has surged to levels unseen in nearly two decades, with more than 170 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire since the start of 2023, according to a tally by The Associated Press.
Israel says most of those killed have been militants, but stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in the confrontations also have been killed.
At least 27 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis since the beginning of the year.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, along with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.