Israeli military operations in the occupied West Bank and unrest in the Gaza Strip have killed six Palestinians, Palestinian health officials said Wednesday, the latest spike in a wave of violence that has roiled the region for more than a year. At least three of the dead are believed to be militants.
The death toll from the latest outbreak rose to four late Tuesday. But on Wednesday the Palestinian Ministry of Health raised the bar, saying an Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank killed four people and wounded 30 others, while a raid on a separate refugee camp killed another Palestinian. A sixth Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire in unrest in the Gaza Strip, officials said.
Deadly violence between Israel and the Palestinians over the past year and a half has risen to levels not seen in the West Bank in nearly two decades. Israel has stepped up its raids on Palestinian territories and Palestinian attacks against Israelis have increased. The tension seems to be spreading to Gaza as well.
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The Israeli military said on Wednesday that troops opened fire on a Palestinian who was throwing explosives at them during an overnight arrest raid in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp. The camp, near the Palestinian city of Jericho, has emerged as one of the focal points of Israel’s raids.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said Israeli forces killed 19-year-old Dhargham al-Akhras in the raid.
The carnage at the Jenin camp hours earlier was the latest in that Palestinian militant stronghold where the Israeli army often carries out deadly raids. In July, Israel launched its most intense operation in the West Bank in nearly two decades, leaving widespread devastation in the settlement.
The military said forces carried out a rare strike on Tuesday with a suicide drone during the operation and exchanged fire with gunmen in Jenin. While leaving the camp, the military said, an explosive detonated under a military truck as gunmen opened fire, damaging the vehicle. No soldiers were injured.
Three of those killed in Jenin are believed to be members of the militant group Hamas, or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and have been identified as Mahmoud al-Saadi, 23, Mahmoud Ararawi, 24, and Ata Yasser Musa, 29.
Videos posted on social media showed medics unloading the wounded at a hospital, while other videos showed explosions and gunfire echoing through the camp. As the Israeli soldiers retreated, a crowd of young men shouted, “Oh, you who ask, who are we? We are the Jenin Brigade.”
After the Israeli army withdrew from the Jenin camp, dozens of gunmen and residents poured into the streets to protest the Palestinian Authority and its failure to protect them, according to footage shared by residents.
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Israel says the raids are intended to dismantle militant networks and prevent future attacks.
About 190 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the start of the year, according to an Associated Press count. Israel says most of those killed were fighters, but youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in the clashes have also been killed.
At least 31 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis since the beginning of 2023.
In violence in Gaza, health officials said the Israeli army killed a 25-year-old Palestinian man along the volatile border with Israel as youths staged violent protests at a separation fence.
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The unrest last week escalated tensions and prompted Israel to ban thousands of Palestinian workers from the impoverished enclave.
Last week, dozens of Palestinians — burning tires and throwing explosive devices at Israeli soldiers — ran toward the fence that separates Israel from Gaza, which has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007. Israel says the blockade is necessary to prevent the ruling Hamas militant group was not armed.
Hamas says the youth organized the protests in response to Israeli provocations.
Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the Middle East war of 1967. The Palestinians seek these lands for their longed-for independent state.