At least six Palestinians killed in Israeli raid on West Bank refugee camp

At least six Palestinians have been killed in an Israeli army raid on a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

Witnesses said fighting broke out after residents of the camp saw Israeli soldiers get out of a furniture truck near a house on a hill overlooking the center of the sprawling camp and fighters immediately opened fire.

In the ensuing firefight, Israeli forces surrounded a house where a Hamas gunman suspected of shooting two brothers from a Jewish settlement near the village of Huwara last week barricaded himself with other fighters. The Israeli forces used shoulder-mounted missiles against the building, an army statement said. In addition to six killed, at least 16 Palestinians were injured, while one member of the Israeli police was injured and three slightly injured.

The military identified the shooter as Abdel-Fattah Kharusha, a member of the Islamist group Hamas, who on Feb. 26 shot two Israelis as they sat in their cars at a checkpoint near the Palestinian village of Huwara in the occupied West Bank. It said his two sons were arrested in a simultaneous raid on the city of Nablus, another center of militant activity.

Hamas, which controls the blockaded Gaza Strip but also has fighters in the West Bank, has released a statement claiming Kharusha is a member and saying it carried out the Huwara attack, the latest in a series of deadly attacks on Israelis by Palestinians this year.

Jenin, one of the main centers of militant activity in the West Bank where armed fighters parade openly, has been repeatedly raided by Israeli forces during months of violence that have fueled fears of a repeat of the Intifadas or uprisings of the 1980s and early 2000s. increase. .

The shooting of the two Israeli brothers sparked a revenge attack by Jewish settlers who killed a Palestinian man and set dozens of homes and cars on fire in a frenzy described as a “pogrom” by a senior Israeli commander.

The frenzy sparked global outrage and condemnation, heightened when ultra-nationalist Treasury Secretary Bezalel Smotrich, who is responsible for aspects of government in the West Bank, said Huwara should be “obliterated”. Mr. Smotrich later offered a partial withdrawal.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated overnight calls for both sides to de-escalate tensions in the West Bank, and the violence is also expected to be addressed by the US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin when he visits Israel this week.

However, there is no sign of the violence abating ahead of the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish Passover celebration.

The deaths in Jenin came after a major reinforcement of Israeli forces in the West Bank following violence in Huwara, which is near a major intersection where settlers and Palestinians have regularly clashed.

Despite a crackdown by Israeli police, tensions in Huwara have persisted since the shooting, and Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians in the village overnight.

The Israeli army and border police dispersed the crowd of what the army described as “a number of violent rioters” in Huwara. Videos shared on social media showed a group of black-clad youths attacking a Palestinian car before the driver managed to drive away.

“My wife was in the back and she was hugging our daughter to cover her,” said Omar Khalifa, who had just finished shopping at a supermarket and got into the car with his family when the attack happened. “We could have lost her, there was real danger to our lives.”

Other footage appeared to show Israeli soldiers dancing alongside Jewish settlers in the city on what was the Jewish festival of Purim. “Huwara is vanquished, gentlemen!” a voice is heard saying in Hebrew.

The military declined to comment on the footage of soldiers dancing with settlers when it responded to a request for information about the incident. Nor did it immediately respond to a Reuters question about whether any arrests had been made.

Since the beginning of the year, Israeli forces have killed more than 70 Palestinians, including militant fighters and civilians, while during the same period, Palestinians killed 13 Israelis and a Ukrainian woman in a series of apparently uncoordinated attacks by individuals.


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