Israeli army raid kills 4 Palestinians in occupied West Bank

Four Palestinians, including a teenage boy, were killed during an Israeli army raid near the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on Thursday, Palestinian officials said.

It was the latest bloodshed in a year-long wave of violence in the region.

The Israeli military confirmed its forces were operating in the city of Jenin on Thursday and later said that troops killed two wanted members of the Islamic Jihad group and a third person, who was killed “after attempting to attack the forces with a crowbar.”

Jenin is among areas of the West Bank that have seen intensified Israeli raids over the past year as tensions over the Palestinians’ long-stalled statehood hopes have surged.

The Palestinian health ministry said 23 others had been wounded in the raid in Jenin on Thursday, five of them seriously.

It identified three of the dead as Youssef Shreem, 29, Nidal Khazim, 28, and Omar Awadin, 16. The identity of the fourth was not immediately known.

Amateur video taken by people in Jenin appeared to show a crowd of Palestinians surrounding a car that people suspected carried undercover Israeli troops.

In a video posted on social media, a crowd of people surround a car and hurl objects at it. Several gunshots ring out and the crowd starts to scatter. Another clip appeared to show Israeli military vehicles towing the car away.

Mahmoud al-Saadi of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Jenin told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that “an Israeli undercover unit stormed the city center’s Abu Bakr street.”

The Israeli army said that soldiers and armed gunmen traded fire, and that soldiers came under attack from stones. It reported no injuries to army personnel.

The raid comes days before a planned meeting between Palestinian and Israeli officials on Sunday in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for talks aimed at reducing tensions ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The Palestinian group Hamas, which rules in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, called the latest raid a “crime,” warning it will not go “unanswered.”

Violence intensified last year but has worsened in the West Bank since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to office in December in a governing coalition with ultra-Orthodox Jewish and extreme-right allies.

The government of Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption on charges he denies, has vowed to continue the expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Thursday’s deaths bring the number of Palestinians killed since the start of the year to 83 as Israel has stepped up arrest raids in the West Bank. Some 14 Israelis are said to be killed over the same period.

The current round of violence is one of the worst between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank in years.

Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 2022, making it the deadliest year in those areas since 2004, according to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Palestinian attacks against Israelis during that same time killed 30 people.

Israel captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek those territories for their future independent state.

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