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Israeli forces kill five Palestinians during a raid in the West Bank

A 15-year-old boy was named among the dead after the incursion in the city of Jenin.

LAST UPDATE | 19 Jun 2023

ISRAELI FORCES IN the occupied West Bank have killed five Palestinians including a militant, in a raid that saw seven Israeli security personnel wounded and rare helicopter fire.

The sound of gunfire was heard across Jenin as wounded Palestinians continued to arrived by ambulance to the northern West Bank city’s Ibn Sina hospital into the early afternoon, an AFP journalist said.

Crowds, among them Palestinian gunmen, gathered outside Jenin government hospital, as the funerals of those killed in eleven hours of fighting began.

The Palestinian health ministry said five people had been killed and at least 91 others were wounded in the violence.

It named four of those killed: 15-year-old Ahmed Saqer, Khaled Assassa, 21, Qais Jabareen, 21, Ahmad Daraghmeh, 19, and Qassam Abu Saria, 29.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed Abu Saria as a fighter for the militant group.

Among the injured was Palestinian journalist Hazem Nasser, who was hospitalised with a gunshot wound, according to the Palestinian journalists syndicate.

Jenin’s deputy governor, Kamal Abu al-Rub, told AFP the Israeli forces had launched the raid at around 4am (1am Irish time).

embedded8239b67c567c4e1189759b0ad1d9d4e5 Palestinian Red crescent paramedics evacuate a journalist injured when he was shot while filming fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in the West Bank city of Jenin AP AP

“The army stormed the (Jenin refugee) camp and the city after the dawn prayer in large numbers, and there was intense gunfire,” he said.

An AFP journalist at the scene said Israeli forces withdrew from Jenin at around 3.10pm (12.10pm Irish time).

‘Deteriorating situation’

The Israeli army said an armoured vehicle had been hit by a “very unusual and dramatic” explosive device at around 7.1 am (4.10am Irish time), during “routine activity” to arrest two “wanted suspects” – one affiliated with Islamist movement Hamas and the other with the Islamic Jihad.

“We had five Israeli border police guys wounded, and two soldiers also lightly wounded,” army spokesman Richard Hecht said. “From that point, we had to extract our injured.”

“It will take a few hours, it’s going to be pretty harsh, there is a lot of fire,” he added in the early afternoon.

The army said that an Apache helicopter had fired missiles in support of the soldiers, a rare move in the West Bank.

A Palestinian intelligence official told AFP on condition of anonymity it was the first time since 2002 – during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising – that the Israeli army has fired missiles from an aircraft during a raid in Jenin.

embedded516ac19bcef3405d8b12c76e076df56f AP AP

The United Nations rights chief, Volker Turk, said he was “extremely worried by the deteriorating situation”.

“Unlawful killings of Palestinians by the Israeli security forces have increased, including apparent extrajudicial executions,” he added.

Violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has escalated over the past year, specially after the hard-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took power in December.

‘Open war’

Palestinian health minister Mai al-Kaila called in a statement for the “urgent” dispatch of blood and medical supplies to Jenin.

Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian Authority’s civil affairs minister, said a “fierce and open war is being waged against the Palestinian people … by the occupation (Israeli) forces”.

He called for the Palestinian leadership to take “unprecedented decisions” without elaborating.

Speaking as the raid unfolded, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said: “We will use all the tools at our disposal and strike terrorists wherever they may be.”

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War and its forces regularly launch incursions into Palestinian cities, which are nominally under the control of president Mahmud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.

Later, two Israeli soldiers were wounded after Palestinians rammed them at a checkpoint near Jenin, the army said.

“The soldiers responded with fire, hits were identified,” a statement said.

The Palestinian health ministry said two Palestinians suffering gunshot wounds were being treated in a Jenin hospital, one of them in a critical condition.

Jenin and its adjacent refugee camp – which was besieged by the army in 2002 and saw deadly fighting – have frequently been the site of violent clashes between Israel and the Palestinians.

embeddedfe552ad888c64a1192cf259925357e31 Israeli military vehicles clash with Palestinian militants AP AP

In March, four Palestinians were killed during the a raid on the camp.

10 Palestinians were killed in another operation in the camp in January – at the time the deadliest single raid in the West Bank for 20 years. An incursion into Nablus the following month killed 11 Palestinians.

Since the start of the year, at least 163 Palestinians, 21 Israelis, a Ukrainian and an Italian have been killed in violence linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources.

The figures include combatants as well as civilians and, on the Israeli side, three members of the Arab minority.

© AFP 2023 

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